back to article Home Office waves a cool £1bn to outsource handling of British visa, citizenship applications

The UK Home Office is set to begin talking to tech and outsourcing services suppliers to assess how the Visas and Citizenship (V&C) Directorate can hand over large chunks of its operations to the private sector in deals that could be worth up to £1bn. A procurement notice said that V&C, part of the UK Visas and Immigration …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems a very big budget...

    ...just for incinerating some landing cards and paperwork.

    1. Chris G

      Re: Seems a very big budget...

      So, a sustainable energy resource ?

      If the usual culprits get a look in, Teresa May will see the Toxic Culture coming in, a bit late for her though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seems a very big budget...

        It's going to be Priti awful for sure.

  2. Tim99 Silver badge

    A failed State?

    Perhaps a sign of this is when a government outsources the basics like who is a citizen and who can enter the country to an outside group without direct Ministerial or Departmental oversight...

    1. Christopher Reeve's Horse

      Re: A failed State?

      I agree, it’s going to be another shift show. Cue future headlines about racist and discriminatory processes ‘accidentally’ effecting people, which will inevitably be blamed on poorly trained contractors. Or something similar...

  3. oiseau

    Keeps at it ...

    Incredible ...

    The UK insists in handling its affairs to the private sector, whose main and only interest is to make money with the least effort.

    Is this is to keep some part of the government bureaucracy running smoothly and efficiently?

    Must be a joke.

    Let's take, for example (there are many others), a pharmaceutical corporation.

    Are they in the business of ensuring the population is and remains healthy?


    They are in the business of making money by selling drugs, which may or may not cure different illnesses.

    If they actually go into the business of ensuring the population is and remains healthy (and are good at it) they'll make much less money and maybe even go out of business.

    This is all utter rubbish and the results of this policy are there for everyone to see: hospitals, NHS, PPP schemes, railoads, public transport, military recruitment, public housing, and so on.

    The list is as long as the failures encountered, with a huge cost to the common man.

    You cannot put public matters in private hands, it's a recipe for ruin.


    1. poohbear

      Re: Keeps at it ...

      "profiteering" is far too weak to describe their charges.

    2. MatthewSt

      Re: Keeps at it ...

      For the most part I agree with you, but things with measurable outcomes (public transport springs to mind) _should_ be able to work under the private sector (even though I know they don't). If it's a continuous "provide a service doing x for y people" then there's no reason a private company can't do the same.

      The "main and only interest of making money with the least effort" is equivalent to the public sector's aim of getting the most benefit from spending as little as possible. Neither side likes waste, the difference is that the private sector get to pocket more if there's less waste, whereas the public sector get their budget cut if they spend less.

      Let's face it though, the only reason any of these things are outsourced is because the people outsourcing them either own companies or have friends who own companies that do that kind of work

    3. aje21

      Re: Keeps at it ...

      They are in the business of making money by selling drugs, which may or may not cure treat different illnesses.

      1. oiseau
        Thumb Up

        Re: Keeps at it ...

        ... may or may not treat different illnesses.

        Quite so.

        I stand corrected. 8^°

        Thank you, sir.


      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Keeps at it ...

        Really, it's OK to sell drugs in the UK?

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Keeps at it ...

      the private sector, whose main and only interest is to make money with the least effort.

      When it's my tax money being spent, I expect it to be used to get best results for least expense, no matter whether it is a public or private organization spending it.

      Past experience has shown that the public sector does not understand the concept of "value for money" in the slightest.

      1. oiseau

        Re: Keeps at it ...

        ... experience has shown that the public sector does not understand the concept of "value for money" in the slightest. ...

        Hmmm ...

        Value for money ...

        Yes, I've heard of it.

        But it depends heavily on who is evaluating, what they are evaluating and basically if they are actually valuating the right things. ie: everything, particularly things cannot be translated into money/dividends.

        As things stand, the private sector has clearly shown, at every chance it's had, what their concept of "value for money" is:

        The most money for them with the least value for the rest of us.

        As such, it is absolutely at odds with the aim of ensuring common good, general welfare and security and the well-being of everyone in the nation.

        Clearly a task for the state to undertake.

        Examples abound all around the world, not only in the UK.

        No need to get into the details.


    5. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Keeps at it ...

      Yes because the GPO (BT), British Gas, The Electricity Boards and British Rail were so much better that current private sector version.

      Want a phone? Well you can rent one and we'll fit it in six months time.

      Need central? You'll have to buy it from you local gas board shop and have it fitted eventually by a British Gas engineer.

      Want a gas cooker? See above.

      Want a train? Good luck, it may turn up and you may have to stand in the guards van...if you are lucky.

      Unfortunately, we have rose tinted glasses.

      Public utility companies in the 70's and early 80s were utterly shit monopolies, with no incentive to improve.

      Private sector CAN be better in many cases, because it's not hamstrung with overly complex bureaucracy.

      All that said, many things such as Visas, really shouldn't be outsourced, as you need to keep a handle on who and where it is being carried out.

      1. Outski

        Re: Keeps at it ...

        And when the Water Boards were privatised (and I think most people would agree that water is a fairly essential commodity), one of the first things that happened was the laying off of the hill-workers who kept the drainage culverts clear, which resulted in empty reservoirs the next warm summer - cue hospipe bans and water rationing (while still not fixing leaky mains supplies).

        Never privatise national infrastructure is a very useful maxim for good governance.

      2. EnviableOne

        Re: Keeps at it ...

        GPO was in the process of gearing up to roll out full fibre before it was privatised, then they sold of the fabs to boost dividends

        British Rail ran a comparable service to most operators, and considerably better than southern or northern, at a considerably lower cost, and were working on new technology to revolutionise rail travel.

        public utilities worked and costs were ok, and service is provided by the OTT providers.

        IMHO, infrastructure tshould be nationalised, services should be pulic.

        This is just going to be another woeful public service provided at lowest cost by the lowest paid for more than it would cost to run in house.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The whole thing is about publicising risk and privatising profit.

    Having been thru the visa process back when it only cost loads of money and wasnt utter shite (2013 to 2019) i cant but help feel sorry for all the poor souls who have to endure the abysmal fustercluck that it is now.

    I wonder how the 3 million chinese about to arrrive will feel about this or do they already have passports?

    1. Insert sadsack pun here

      There are no words in the English language to explain what an expensive and poorly administered shitshow the UK immigration system is. I'd like to think it was a deliberate strategy to create a hostile environment - but I doubt the government is capable of evil that intricate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        oh they're definitely capable, just not competent (that said, half of Home Office appears to be at war with the other half, dedicated public servants versus utter bastards)

        Anon, as a) we're in visa renewal for my other half, and b) my firm works with HO day in, day out

      2. EnviableOne

        Obligatory Hanlon's razor reference

  5. macjules

    We know how this ends

    1) Capita get ihe contract

    2) Capita doubles the costs

    3) Following COVID-19 nobody renews their passport and nobody wants to take out British citizenship.

    4) Capita blames the public and Jon Lewis swears he will take a pay cut, but doesn't.

    All a crying shame

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: We know how this ends

      Probably not Crapita, more likely to be someone like VFS Global who provide this sort of service for 60+ governments worldwide.

      1. NeilPost

        Re: We know how this ends

        Indeed with a quick check they already run 2 Visa centres for the Indian Government in Smethwick and Leicester in my locale.

        I’d prefer someone like ghis that the usual shitshow or companies.

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: We know how this ends

        Crapita, Fujitsu and all the other parasitic services giants that make all their money by swindling the tax payer.

        Delivery and usage:

        Will be late

        Will not work properly

        Will probably be run from India etc as it is cheaper

        Will cost more than budgeted

        And for the successful bidder see it as a success (financially) as they cannot lose.

        I am not sure how a system can cost that much, £1 billion is an awful lot even when you years of contract in place.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We know how this ends

          I am not sure how a system can cost that much

          And yet you still feel qualified to comment on it?

  6. Magani

    Tip from the Antipodes

    As a beastly colonial whose forebears were thrown out of the Old Dart some 200+ years ago, can I just say...

    DON'T DO IT!

    It's a government's prerogative to say who can enter and who can be a citizen. Unless it's under direct ministerial control, it will eventually go to hell in a handbasket. Comments above about the agendas of private commercial concerns are spot on the money. Privatisation of core government functions under the guise of saving taxpayer shekels are never a good thing. Tears at bedtime inevitably follow.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "hand over [..] its operations to the private sector in deals that could be worth up to £1bn"

    Wow. Government privatizing the handling of its border control. UK Gov has obviously not had enough examples of IT stuff going wrong, and can't help but set up a new line of funding for the same coterie of incapable sloths who are going to have a new trough to plunge in.

    What can possibly go wrong ?

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: "hand over [..] its operations to the private sector in deals that could be worth up to £1bn"

      Odd, they are busy privatizing everything except themselves - why don't we privatize government, fire all the MPs and replace them with corporations? Wait - that wouldn't change anything.

  8. MachDiamond Silver badge

    UK passport pricing

    I can't wait to see what the bribe will be to source a UK passport. If they outsource to a firm in Morocco or India, it could be much cheaper than what it would cost if the company was inside the UK.

    There are some things that are the provenance of government. Passports and immigration documents are one of those things.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Been done before...

    *cough* Immigration Case Work programme *cough* £400m *cough* ...failed IT programme *cough*

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