From Thursday 1 June, anyone living abroad wanting to email the Home Office about visas and immigration will have to pay £5.48 for the privilege. But while the government claims the changes are aimed at reducing costs, the contract for the services is now with a private company.
All customer enquiries will now be dealt with by Sitel UK. This means that all telephone numbers will change. Alongside the charge of £5.48 for sending an email, there are other changes that are also disturbing. For example, the number of languages being offered by the service is reducing – to just eight, including English. But given Sitel UK can support 19 languages, it seems this is yet another cost-cutting exercise. And one that is likely to disadvantage a huge number of people who need to use the service.
Cutting costs? Or private profit?
The government claims:
These changes help the government reduce costs and ensure those who benefit directly from the UK immigration system make an appropriate contribution.
But it’s not as though those applying for visas don’t already pay. The cost of a standard visa is £89, and prices go up from there.
And now, the contract is being managed by a private company. Sitel UK describes itself as the:
leading provider of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) solutions in the UK, offering clients unprecedented partnership value in the delivery of multi-channel customer contact interactions across all stages of the customer relationship lifecycle.
Sitel UK is part of a global company, Acticall Sitel Group, which claims:
revenues of $1.7 billion and employs more than 75,000 associates within 22 countries conducting millions of customer contact experiences each day for some of the world’s most trusted brands.
This has to lead to questions over whether the government is introducing the email charges to save money. Or whether the introduction is about a private company making profits from visas and immigration.
Either way, it tells you everything you need to know about the callous Conservative government we have in power right now.
– Get out there and vote on 8 June.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
Featured image via Flickr