The Home Office is drafting in agency workers to the Border Force for the first time to help it cope with a potential no-deal Brexit.
The department is recruiting 1,000 extra Border Force agents to ensure the agency is ready to inspect goods and immigration documents at ports and minimise disruption as goods are transported into the country. There were 8,197 in place last year.
But with just over two months until the UK’s exit from the EU on 31 October, staff have been told that some of these extra staff will be agency workers recruited to help with the “facilitation of the movement of goods” away from port terminals in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Guardian has reported.
Some civil servants in the Border Force are concerned that handing some of the Border Force’s responsibilities to temporary workers poses a security threat, the report said.
One senior official told the newspaper: “We are expected to keep an eye on vehicles in transit in case they are transporting illicit goods and illegal immigrants. Placing people with little loyalty to the job leaves obvious possibilities for exploitation.”
The Border Force is currently advertising to fill 242 officer vacancies on the civil service jobs board, plus a further 88 apprentices.
One of the officer job advert tells applicants – who will earn between £23,447 and £31,051 – they do not need to have experience in security, but must be able to “work flexibly within a team environment, as priorities can change rapidly”.
The ad also warned that staff must be prepared to work “in sometimes difficult and pressurised environments”.
Apprentices will be paid between £15,123 and £18,148 plus annualised hours allowance. A job advert describes the position as a "24 hours a day, 365 days a year job", adding: "This is some of the most important and challenging work in Government as it both protects and enhances the UK economy and if you are successful
"This is a 24 hours a day, 365 days a year job," it says.
The report comes after CSW revealed government departments spent £1.1bn on temporary staff last year, 18.3% more than the year before, fuelled largely by Brexit preparations.
The Home Office alone spent £96.7m on temporary and agency staff – with a third to plug gaps at UK Visas and Immigration, the Passport Office and Immigration Enforcement “to deal with backlogs in migrant casework, passport application/examination, asylum applications and in preparation for exiting the EU”.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Border Force is recruiting up to 1,000 new staff to help maintain security and support flows at the border, including some contingency and agency staff.
“Resource and staffing requirements are continually reviewed, and we deploy resources flexibly as and when they are required."