UK Asylum Seekers To Rwanda to Cost Close to £170k Per Person
The Home Office has disclosed that the cost of sending an asylum seeker to Rwanda could reach approximately £170,000, reigniting controversy surrounding the scheme.
The government’s long-awaited “impact assessment” of the illegal migration bill acknowledges their limited understanding of the overall expenses associated with detaining and deporting irregular entrants into the UK. Caroline Nokes, Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, raised concerns about the scheme’s value for money and justification amidst other pressing issues.
The timing of this revelation is critical as the government faces challenges to its flagship policy of “stopping the boats,” with threats from peers to disrupt the bill and an upcoming court of appeal ruling on the legality of deporting asylum seekers, including women and children, to Rwanda.
Enver Solomon, Head of the Refugee Council, criticizes the assessment for failing to consider the true costs and consequences of the proposed legislation, warning that it could deny protection to tens of thousands of refugees, cost billions, and fail to address the asylum system crisis.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman argues that the assessment demonstrates potential savings of at least £106,000 per individual deterred from irregularly entering the UK, urging support for the bill to combat people-smuggling networks and restore balance to the asylum system.
However, the assessment also reveals that relocating an individual to Rwanda or another third country could cost £169,000, based on a previous government scheme. The Home Office clarifies that this figure is derived from a theoretical exercise under the bill.
The assessment concedes the difficulty of estimating the bill’s deterrence level and acknowledges that policy changes have little evidence of deterring individuals from seeking refuge. Factors such as shared language, culture, and family ties play a more significant role in determining the choice of a final destination.
The Home Office has refused to disclose payments to Rwanda, citing “commercial sensitivities,” in addition to a £140 million payment made during Boris Johnson’s administration.
Capacity constraints raised in the assessment cast doubt on the government’s plan to detain and deport all irregular arrivals. This could lead to additional costs related to bailing individuals, providing non-detained accommodation, reduced deterrence, and process issues such as migrants absconding while not detained.
Furthermore, criticism has emerged regarding Braverman’s plan to house asylum seekers on barges, which has been deemed “unworkable” after missing its target placement date.
Following threats from peers, the release of the assessment was prompted, demanding factual information on the bill’s financial impact. The government awaits a court of appeal judgment on the legality of its deportation plans, which have drawn concerns from organizations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper criticizes the assessment as a “complete joke,” cautioning that the bill could incur billions in additional costs, further straining taxpayers. Cooper asserts that the figures provided by the Home Office illustrate the chaotic and unworkable nature of the plans, suggesting that fulfilling Sunak’s promise would exceed the current expenses of the flawed asylum system.
Human rights barrister Shami Chakrabarti questions the timing and content of the assessment, likening it to a press release. She highlights the lack of consideration for untested financial and human costs, the absence of a clear delivery plan, and the disregard for international law.
Chakrabarti questions why the document was not published earlier during the bill’s passage through the House of Commons, emphasizing its shortcomings and focusing solely on deterrence.
Source: The Guardian