Incentivised contract gave Capita 2.5% extra payment if target for removals exceeded.
The private company that handled the Windrush cases had a Home Office contract that paid extra money if more people were removed from Britain, according to newly released documents.
The information, sent to a parliamentary committee investigating the Windrush scandal, shows that the Home Office’s contract with Capita gave the company a bonus payment of 2.5% on top of the normal fee above a certain target for removals from the UK, rising to 12.5% if the total exceeded the target by 10%.
The detail is among documents released by the cross-party joint committee on human rights (JCHR), chaired by the Labour MP Harriet Harman, which comprises MPs and peers.
The committee condemned the Home Office in June after Capita sent two Windrush citizens who had been continuously resident in the UK for about 50 years to immigration detention centres before planned removals.
The committee said Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan had experienced a “total violation of their human rights”.
As part of the continuing investigation into the wider Windrush affair, Harman wrote to Sajid Javid, the home secretary, a number of times seeking details of the contract with Capita, which dealt with the so-called migration refusal pool – people who applied for leave to remain in the UK but were refused.
This was the position faced by many Windrush citizens who had lived legally in the UK for decades but were targeted after being unable to show authorities sufficiently detailed evidence about their status.
Capita had two separate contracts with the Home Office. One involved the detention and removal of migrants; the other was for contact management and casework. As part of the latter contract, which ran from 2012 to 2016, and involved contacting and processing the cases of suspected illegal immigrants, Capita had an “outcome based payment mechanism”.
One document the committee published reveals that the Home Office gave the firm overall incentives to beat removal targets.
“The authority wants to incentivise the contractor to increase the numbers of removals as part of the service, and to decrease other outcomes,” it says.
The 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.”
After Capita waived concerns about commercial sensitivity, the Home Office sent the JCHR the section of the contract detailing the incentive scheme, as well as a largely redacted schedule of payments, part of which showed the firm was paid between £10.58 and £22.63 per person contacted who left the UK voluntarily.
A Home Office spokesperson stressed that the contract in question covered immigration casework and also incentivised the company to secure voluntary removals. They added: “Where someone is in the country illegally we will try, where possible, to secure a voluntary return. Our contract with Capita reflected this policy. This contract did not cover deportations.”
A series of letters between Harman and Javid, also released by the committee, show the Labour MP pressing the Home Office to proactively contact Windrush citizens who had been wrongly detained to tell them that they could see files about themselves that might help their cases, which Javid declined.
In one letter on 17 July, Harman enclosed a proposed letter to detained members of the Windrush generation, informing them about their Home Office files and asking permission for the JCHR to see these as part of its investigation.
Replying in August, Javid refused. “I welcome the committee’s scrutiny, but, in order to ensure consistency of approach to understanding these cases, I believe that the ‘lessons learned’ review should take the lead in the analysis of these cases,” he wrote. “I do not consider this would be advanced by the Home Office writing to individuals on the committee’s behalf.”
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.”
First published by Peter Walker and Heather Stewart, The Guardian. Available here