Wednesday, July 17, 2024
HomeCulture WarRace, incompetence and the migrant backlog

Race, incompetence and the migrant backlog


ONE reason the issue of the migrant backlog is so impossible to solve is that, once again, the conversation about race cannot be had.

In this instance I’m talking not about the people arriving illegally on small boats, but the majority of those whose job it is to process their applications for asylum. 

Until 2011 I was employed as a Tenancy Compliance Officer for my local council. The alleged purpose of my job was homelessness prevention; the position involved treating adult men and women like children to ensure that they maintained their existing tenancy despite a great deal of wrongdoing including unpaid rent, anti-social behaviour and using their social housing property for criminal activity i.e. drug dealing or prostitution. 

During the nine and a half years I was in this job, every manager I worked under belonged to an ethnic minority and/or was a woman. Many were unqualified in terms of both intellectual ability and understanding of the white underclass we were dealing with, and betrayed a general lack of common sense. 

My experience was that they would become overly flustered about matters which might be described as pretty straightforward, exacerbated by their scant knowledge of law and legislature surrounding all housing-related matters. Yet they would go to egregious lengths to hold on to the power, salary and gold-plated pension even when they were aware they were out of their depth. 

Sadly, the workers under them weren’t much better; the job was pretty simple but most of my colleagues would use up a 40-hour working week still complaining that there were not enough hours in the day to complete the work they did.

How does this affect the migrant application processing backlog? Let me give you an example. In 2012 a huge corporation bought the historic building that was the 101-room Salvation Army hostel for the homeless in Manchester, from which the residents were moved to three new purpose-built hostels on the outskirts of the city centre. Three of us were given the task of completing 33 new housing benefit forms for the residents, all of whom were male, from Africa and the Middle East. The form in question, while lengthy in terms of page numbers, requires very little written information; largely it’s a box-ticking exercise which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as complex or requiring more than a moderate level of intelligence. 

I completed my quota of 11 forms in a day with an hour to spare; my colleagues each took two weeks and two days to complete their 11 forms. The outcome of this was the people who were employed at the Housing Benefit office, most of whom did not speak English, demanded reasons why the benefit wasn’t applied for earlier, leading to a back-and-forth correspondence resulting in an even longer delay in payments. 

Staff incompetence isn’t a topic up for discussion because of the race element, but more often than not it is at the heart of the issue; too many departments anxious to tick the ‘minorities quota’ box either don’t ponder whether or not they can do the job, or don’t care.

The outcome of this politically correct box-ticking exercise is a communication breakdown which can only be described as catastrophic. My guess is that the department responsible for the processing of migrant applications, bending over backwards not to be racist, has had quite a spectacular box-tick, allowing those on the left to blame the chaos on ‘understaffing’ when this isn’t the case at all. 

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Rebecca D’Amato
Rebecca D’Amato
Teacher of emotional education at The Academy of Emotional Education.

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