Amber Rudd’s implied criticism of her own Home Office staff over the Windrush scandal is an attempt to deflect from eight years of hostile immigration policies under Theresa May, the head of the top civil servants’ union has said.
Dave Penman, the general secretary of the FDA union, which represents senior civil servants, says the home secretary has failed to take into account how electoral pressure upon the Conservatives from Ukip has defined immigration policies since 2010.
In a column for the Guardian, he claims that May’s net migration targets of 100,000 have prompted a series of aggressive laws to cut migration and crack down on illegal immigration while implementing 20% of cuts across the civil service.
His words are the first sign of Whitehall discontent over ministers’ attempts to blame civil servants for the treatment of an unknown number of people who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean but were never formally naturalised.
Newly tightened immigration rules mean individuals are increasingly required to show documents proving a right to be in the UK before they can take up work, rent properties, access healthcare, or claim benefits.
On Monday, Rudd told parliament: “I am concerned that the Home Office has become too concerned with policy and strategy and sometimes loses sight of the individual.”
Penman writes: “The Home Office is not a sentient being, so [Rudd’s comment] was implicitly a criticism of her staff. If she’s serious about understanding why this might be the case, she would do better to consider the political strategy and rhetoric adopted by her government over many years rather than suggesting it is individual civil servants who have lost their focus.
“Since 2010, the net migration target of 100,000 has acted as a lightning rod for a series of legislative attempts to cut migration and a crackdown on illegal immigrants as the Conservatives felt the electoral pressure from Ukip, and it was clear there were few medals to be awarded in the Home Office for anyone trying to advise a more cautious approach.
“The real lessons from this scandal need to be learned by the politicians who got exactly what they asked for from the civil service, even if that fact is now a little inconvenient.”