The UK Border Agency spent nearly £8 million on public relations last year, according to figures uncovered by the Tory opposition.
Figures revealed the UK Border Agency’s budget for publicity and promotion was £7.8 million in the financial year 2008/9 – including £2 million for marketing and £3.3 million for advertising and promotion.
A spokesman for UKBA said publicity was an important way of stopping illegal immigration.
The Tories argue that the total budget would have paid the salaries of 260 Immigration Officers.
Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said:
“In a crisis you can guarantee that New Labour will put spin before substance.
“So at a time when our borders are open, and confidence in the immigration system is low, what do they do? They spend millions on advertising, and increase the size of what they call the “professional communications community”.
“One of the new roles will have ‘responsibility for brand guardianship’. Wouldn’t it be better to have more people responsible for keeping Britain’s borders safe?”
A spokesman for UKBA said:
“Publicity campaigns are important means to help the UK Border Agency deter illegal working and smuggling and promote legal compliance by businesses and travellers. We are committed to keeping the public informed. The UK Border Agency has over 25,000 staff working in local communities, at the border and in 135 countries around the world.”