The Home Office gave contractor Capita financial incentives if supposed illegal immigrants left the country voluntarily – or were removed from it – and operated a profit “gainshare” deal, it has emerged.
Letters released by home secretary Sajid Javid to parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights detail the payment mechanisms involved.
Javid last month sought to keep the figures secret, other correspondence showed, but he relented after Capita waived its right to confidentiality.
Javid told the committee – which includes both MPs and peers – in his letter: “By way of explanation of how the contract was designed, it was created on an outcomes-based payment mechanism.
“Targets to be achieved were set under the terms of the contract and where Capita exceeded the target by the stated level, Capita was entitled to claim an incentivisation payment.”
Capita would take data from the Home Office, quality assure it and then contact individuals concerned to “encourage them to leave the United Kingdom voluntarily”.
Javid added: “I can confirm that Capita did not set any individual staff targets to identify people on the Home Office list.”
Data released by the Home Office showed Capita could claim a 2.5% incentive payment “for each case above the target” plus a further 10% for each case that exceeded the target by 10%, making a total possible incentive of 12.5%.
Payments to Capita for each type of operation in the contracts included, for example, £36.20 where a reconsideration request was closed, an applicant departed the UK, was deceased or had been granted leave to remain. This would apply for the first 50,000 such cases, and fall to £31.62 after that.
Payments for achieving voluntary departure were £55.55 and £48.94 respectively, and cases involving recommendations for enforced removal £46.59 and £41.04.
The gainshare mechanism required Capita to account annually to the Home Office for its income and cost under its contract, which allowed for a maximum profit of 13.8%. Any profit above that had to be split 50-50 with the Home Office.
A Capita spokesperson said: "In relation to the contact management and casework services contract, Capita's role was to contact the list of individuals provided by the Home Office.
“Capita's focus was on achieving quality targets and we did not receive any incentive payments under clause 1.5 of the contract. The contract ended in October 2016.”
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “It is truly shocking that Home Office contracts explicitly incentivised Capita to profit from Theresa May’s ‘deport first ask questions later’ approach.
“The true scale of this scandal is still being revealed and the Home Office have not come clean about how many of our fellow citizens were deported, forced into so-called voluntary deportations or detained as prisoners in their own country.”
The joint committee is conducting an inquiry into the UK’s immigration detention system, following the Windrush scandal.
Javid last week issued a formal apology to those wrongfully removed or detained. He said: “The experiences faced by some members of the Windrush generation are completely unacceptable and I am committed to righting the wrongs of the past.
“I would like to personally apologise to those identified in our review and am committed to providing them with the support and compensation they deserve.”
“We must do everything we can to ensure that nothing like this happens again – which is why I have asked an independent adviser to look at what lessons we can learn from Windrush”.