20 November 2017:
Phillip Hammond is under new pressure to make Britain’s immigration system self-funded from its application fees and use additional surpluses for Brexit preparations. Immigration-related income raises over £2bn each year. The Home Office’s annual report of accounts for 2016-17 showed that at least £106m was spent on a consolidated fund on non-immigration matters.
The Home Office’s annual surplus earned from from border, immigration and citizenship services in 2014-15 was over £468m. This was large enough to cover an overall deficit of £266m leaving an overall surplus of more than £200m.
Immigration expert Professor Thom Brooks, Dean of Durham Law School, has called on Hammond to make a new pledge in Wednesday’s budget: “Border security and immigration are top concerns for the public. Brexit will impose new costs on the immigration system whatever the final deal as changes are made with Britain leaving the European Union. All revenue earned by the immigration system should be kept for the immigration system making it self-sustainable at a critical time.”
Professor Brooks says: “migrants are not a cash cow to be milked funding other government projects when we know there is much work to be done preparing for Brexit and new border security infrastructure, but also improving integration through new additional provision for English language support.”
Brooks is concerned that if no fundamental change is made in the budget then the government will be forced to look for new funding streams that may fall on general taxpayers. “The funding is already there in the system,” says Brooks, “The question is whether there is enough political will to act now before it is too late.”