Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Cut to foreign convicts scheme...

It feels like Immigration Minister Damian Green has surreptitiously announced a cut to a Home Office scheme which saw the Government paying foreign convicts to return to their own countries today.

Before October 1 the Home Office would pay £5,000 to foreign lags who still had time left on their sentences, and £3,000 to those who had finished their jail term, to go back to their home country.

The initiative, called the Facilitated Return Scheme (FRS), cost the Government some £4.8m in 2009/10, but had been hailed by the previous and current administrations as a “practical solution” to getting rid of foreign convicts.

But, tucked away at the bottom of an answer to a written question, Green said today:

“In order to make the scheme more affordable and bring it in line with other assisted voluntary, return programmes, it has been necessary to reduce the amount of assistance given to those who leave the country under FRS. As of 1 October 2010, those who apply for and are accepted onto the scheme will receive a reduced cash payment amount. We anticipate that high numbers of individuals will continue to take up the scheme and we will monitor the level of applications over the coming months.”

Lobbydog put in a call to the Home Office who said the amounts now paid out would be reduced to £1,500 and £750 respectively.

That’s a meaty 70% reduction for the upper tier amount and an even bigger 75% reduction for the lower tier amount.

You might think it’s a good thing we're not giving so much taxpayers’ cash to convicts.

The question is, will it mean more foreign convicts deciding to stay in the UK? The £750 might hardly cover the plane fare home.

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