Border Agency staff paid bonuses of up to £7,000

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One in four senior civil servants at the troubled UK Border Agency received bonuses of up to £7,000 last year, figures released by the Home Office have revealed. A fifth took home a bonus of between £4,500 and £5,000.

Dame Helen Ghosh, the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, said the data showed that the percentage and size of bonuses paid to staff had "reduced substantially" over the past four years.

However, the figures released by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee showed that the agency still paid out more than £3.2m in bonuses in the last financial year. Keith Vaz, the committee's chairman, said it showed that the agency – which has been criticised for failing to handle long immigration delays at Heathrow – had not listened to previous recommendations on bonuses.

"The payment of bonuses in the midst of failures such as the relaxation of border controls, the inability to clear the asylum backlog and the reluctance to tackle bogus colleges through unannounced inspections must cease."

The figures reveal that in 2007 almost two-thirds of senior civil servants in the UKBA received bonuses of between £6,000 and £22,000. However, by 2011 this had fallen to 24 per cent of staff receiving bonuses of up to £7,0000.

Dame Helen said the reductions in bonuses reflected "changes in Government policy on SCS [senior civil servant] bonuses".

A UKBA spokesman said: "We have significantly reduced both the value and number of payments made to senior managers."