26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: PS advice on migrants plan rejected

Start the conversation

United Kingdom Home Secretary, Priti Patel is facing significant opposition from her Public Servants over plans to process migrants in Rwanda.

Ms Patel (pictured) issued a rare Ministerial Direction to overrule the advice of Public Servants about whether the scheme would deliver value for money.

It is only the second Ministerial Direction — an order enforced by a Minister despite objections from a Permanent Secretary — the Home Office has received in 30 years.

Unions said Public Servants could stage mass walk-outs in protest against the new plans.

Britain has promised Rwanda an initial £120 million ($A211 million) as part of an “economic transformation and integration fund”.

Beyond this, a set amount of funding is to be allocated for each migrant; expected to cost up to £30,000 ($A52,700) per person for the flight to Rwanda and the first three months of accommodation there.

Many Public Servants are against the policy on legal and ethical grounds, and are expected to express their distaste over the direction.

General Secretary of the FDA union, which covers senior Public Servants, Dave Penman said officials could demand a transfer from the Home Office, or leave the Public Service entirely rather than deliver the policy.

“It’s a divisive policy but Civil Servants know that their job is to serve the Government of the day,” Mr Penman said.

“On the most divisive policies, Civil Servants’ choice is to implement them or leave.

“That could mean elsewhere in the Department, another Department or leaving the Civil Service,” he said.

In a statement, the Public and Commercial Services union said “to attempt to claim this is anything other than utterly inhumane is sheer hypocrisy”.

The row comes as hundreds of Public Servants are being drafted to the Home Office from other Departments to help clear a backlog of Ukrainian refugee visa cases.

A senior Government source said the Home Office had been overwhelmed after hundreds of thousands of people applied for visas through two routes, which allow Ukrainians to travel to the UK if they had immediate family there, or had been matched with a sponsor.

London, 17 April 2022

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.