Andy McSmith's Diary: Bad news - Capita’s visa task bombs. Good news - they’re paid by results

 

More than a year has passed since the UK Border Agency awarded a four-year, £30m contract to a private firm, Capita, to track down immigrants who have overstayed their visas in the UK. Hiring a private firm for a task that is normally the responsibility of the state did not escape criticism. “We are appalled the Government has offered a contract of this size to a private company,” Ruth Grove-White, policy director at the Migrants Rights Network, told The Independent.

The Border Agency calculated at the time that there were 174,000 immigrants who had overstayed. If Capita could find them, it would be a solid sign of the Government being tough on illegal immigration. Capita tried hard. It sent 39,100 text messages telling recipients that they had to leave as they no longer have the right to remain. The texts set off an avalanche of complaints, including those from people who had lived in the UK legally for years.

So how successful has Capita been, overall? Yesterday, while minds were focused on the Autumn Statement, the Home Office posted online the reply to a Freedom of Information request, which revealed that, after 14 months, the Capita contract had caused 4,160 people to depart these shores. So only about another 170,000 to go.

The good news is that the contract specified that Capita will be paid by results, which must have saved a pile of money.

Escalating error

“Really glad George Osborne has scrapped Labour’s awful fuel duty escalator that jacked up petrol tax every year,” a tweet from the Conservative Party head office exulted yesterday. The writer is perhaps not old enough to know that the escalator was introduced in March 1993 by a Conservative Chancellor, Norman Lamont, who was assisted by a promising young special adviser, David Cameron.

Norman recycled  

One of George Osborne’s advisers made a slip of the tongue when talking about what will happen when paper tax discs for vehicles are abolished. He said that one means of payment open to motorists will be a “direct Tebbit”. Presumably, it involves getting on your bike to hand in the cash at DVLA headquarters.

The never-ending story

A little anniversary passed almost unnoticed last month. It has been four years since the first witness appeared at the first public hearing of the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war, and two years and 10 months since the hearings ended. One day, a report will emerge, though nobody knows when. I notice from a written question in the Lords Hansard that the chairman, Sir John Chilcot, is still paid £790 a day, and the committee members £565 per day, whenever the committee sits. Nice work if you can get it.

Crusaders for decency?

Mark Shenton, the long- standing theatre critic of the Sunday Express, has lost his job, not because the industry is contracting, but, he says, because some 22 years ago, before the internet was invented, a friend took a photograph of him in the nude, which has turned up on a gay website. Shenton’s sexuality is not a secret, but the management of the Sunday Express, owned by Richard Desmond, who made millions from pornography, found the image so “embarrassing” that they have dispensed with Shenton’s services. What sensitive little souls they must be.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most