Saturday 26 November 2016

Home Office Finally Agrees To Scrap the Idea Of Raising Immigration Fees By 500%

Home Office

The government has scrapped a 500% increase in fees for immigration and asylum tribunals.

The screeching u-turn follows an overwhelmingly negative public consultation to the proposals, in which all but five of 147 responses argued against them.

In a move brought in by the Ministry of Justice under Michael Gove, the fee for an application to the first-tier tribunal rose from £80 to £490, while the cost of an oral hearing shot up from £140 to £800.

But in a surprise written announcement, sneaked out this afternoon, Tory justice minister Sir Oliver Heald announced the increases were being reversed and anyone who had paid the higher rate would be refunded.

The original announcement had itself been made quietly, during the Queen's birthday celebrations.

Bob Neil, chair of the House of Commons Justice Committee, which said the cost increases were “not realistic”, welcomed the climbdown.

He said there was a “danger the increases would deny vulnerable people to challenge the lawfulness of decisions taken by the state” and that it was “unwise” to bring the price hike in before the review was completed.

He added: "It is very good to see the Government prepared to listen and take action as a result.”

In his statement to MPs, Sir Oliver wrote: “We have listened to the representations that we received on the current fee levels and have decided to take stock and review the immigration and asylum fees, to balance the interests of all tribunal users and the taxpayer and to look at them again alongside other tribunal fees and in the wider context of funding for the system overall.

“From today all applicants will be charged fees at previous levels and we will reimburse, in all cases where the new fees have been paid, the difference between that fee and the previous fee.”

But he added: “The government’s belief is unchanged that it is right that those who use our courts and tribunals should pay more, where they can realistically afford to do so, to ensure that the system is properly funded to protect access to justice and to relieve the burden on the taxpayer.”



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