Border Agency monitors migrant ITers with inadequate IT

42,000 intra-company techies brought in - report

MPs say the UK Border Agency needs better IT to provide data about its points-based system for non-EU workers.

Parliament's public accounts committee has found that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) does not have the necessary IT to provide proper management information to control the flow of workers entering Britain from outside the European economic area.

In a report, published on 17 May, the committee says that when a points-based system to manage the migration of workers was introduced in 2008, the UKBA decided not to introduce new IT to manage applications. The agency said it took the decision so that it would meet its timetable for introducing the new system and to reduce costs.

The result, according to the committee, has been that the UKBA is unable to produce data to help it identify and manage higher risk applications. It also does not know when visas are about to expire and when workers should leave the country.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee, said she was concerned about the lack of control of workers entering Britain through intra-company transfers.

"Most workers enter through this route and, for instance, tens of thousands of IT workers have been brought in through intra-company transfers at a time when UK residents with IT skills are struggling to find work," she said.

The report says that up to September 2010, employers had brought in 42,000 IT workers using this route, even though British residents with IT skills cannot find work.

The UKBA said it is now planning to introduce an integrated casework system. "We will be looking for improved performance once the new system is fully up and running, from 2013," said Hodge.

The past performance of the agency's helplines was also criticised by the committee. It found that in 2009 less than 24% of calls to the helpline for migrants and 58% of calls to the helpline for employers were answered. In March 2011, it found the situation had improved, however, and at least 90% of calls to both lines had been answered.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

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