Spending and staffing: UK immigration and asylum system

Spending and staffing: UK immigration and asylum system

29 September, 2021

1. Gross expenditure on the UK’s immigration and asylum system is now costing around £1 billion more than in 2015/16. Total spending on operations for the five departments carrying out these Home Office functions was £3.4 billion in 2020/21 (£1 billion more than just under £2.4 billion gross expenditure in 2015/16). While spending on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) department (which includes asylum) more than doubled (from £900 million to £1.9 billion), and spending on Border Force (BF) increased by £115 million, spending on immigration enforcement fell by £43 million. There was a drop of £42 million from 2018/19 even as illegal entries (for example by small boat) increased substantially.

Figure 1: Gross expenditure, immigration / asylum operations (Home Office).[1]

2. Even as the total number of staff employed in these functions rose by 4,600 (with a 3,400 increase at UKVI and 1,400 more for BF), there was a fall of 316 in enforcement staff over the period (and a drop of 216 since 2018/19). Spending primarily on temporary agency staff for UKVI, Enforcement and the Passport Office rose by £10 million since 2016/17.

Figure 2: Average number of full-time equivalent staff employed each year (Home Office).[2]