Managers at the troubled UK Border Agency – which has faced fierce criticism over recent chaotic scenes at Heathrow airport – have received bonuses of up to £10,000.
The pay-outs, part of a £3.6m package of rewards for senior staff last year, were condemned yesterday as a reward for failure.
The size of the bonuses emerged as the border force faced fresh criticism for contributing to Heathrow’s queues by poor planning, including allowing staff to sign off at busiest times.
Damian Green, the Immigration minister, was forced to draft in 80 extra staff last week to cope with passenger numbers at Heathrow. Non-EU travellers had to wait up to three hours to have their passports checks, prompting accusations that Britain’s international reputation was suffering severe damage.
Meanwhile the UKBA, which until recently oversaw the Border Force, suffered further embarrassment as the computer system that deals with biometric visas crashed.
Figures obtained by the BBC from a Freedom of Information request show the UKBA paid out more than £11m in performance-related bonuses in the last three years.
The total reward of £3.6m in 2010-11 included at two payments of £10,000.
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the home affairs select committee, said he was shocked by the disclosure.
He said: “The agency has been plagued by failures, including the relaxation of border controls, an inability to clear the asylum backlog, and the reluctance to tackle bogus colleges through unannounced inspections. Rewarding this failure with payments of up to £10,000 is unacceptable.”
The Immigration Services Union said the bonuses would have paid for 100 extra staff at ports and airports.
A Home Office spokesman said the average bonus was just over £500 and rewards were only rewarded when “strict criteria” were achieved.
John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, increased the pressure on the Border Force yesterday as he painted a damning picture of inefficiency at Heathrow.
He said the force had failed to respond to cuts in staff numbers by marshalling resources more effectively.
“Resources were not matched to demand, management oversight and assurance was lacking in many areas and staff were not always properly trained to undertake their duties,” he said.
In a separate report on Gatwick's North Terminal, Mr Vine said he was “very concerned” that customs officers were using their discretion without the authority to do so.
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