Rwanda plan: Each asylum seeker to cost UK £1.8m

Rishi Sunak’s flagship initiative to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda is projected to cost taxpayers £1.8 million for each of the initial 300 individuals deported to Kigali, as revealed by the official spending watchdog, Whitehall. The total expense of the scheme is reported to exceed half a billion pounds, even if no asylum seekers are sent to Rwanda, with a commitment of £370 million from the public purse over a five-year period.

These disclosures come after years of refusal by prime ministers, home secretaries, and senior Home Office officials to divulge the full costs, citing “commercial confidentiality.” Despite facing legal challenges under European and UK laws, no asylum seeker has been sent to Rwanda to date.

Diana Johnson, Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, expressed shock at the revealed figures and raised concerns about the lack of transparency. Johnson questioned the cost-effectiveness of the program compared to high hotel accommodation expenses, emphasizing the need for the government to address real issues in the asylum and immigration system.

The Home Office will make direct payments to the government of Rwanda, including contributions to the Economic Transformation and Integration Fund (ETIF) for economic growth support and payments covering asylum processing and operational costs. The Home Office has already paid £220 million into the ETIF, with additional payments planned for the coming years.

The processing and integration package for each relocated person, covering accommodation, essential items, medical services, education, and other integration programs, is expected to cost up to £150,874 per deported individual. If the UK deports 300 people to Rwanda, the total cost under the partnership, including individual payments and processing costs over five years, would be £541 million, averaging £1.8 million per asylum seeker.

The Home Office has spent £20 million setting up the Rwanda scheme, with expectations that this figure will rise to £28 million by the end of 2023-24. The report also indicates potential additional costs beyond the scheme’s conclusion.

The report clarifies that if the UK activates a break clause in the deal, it would cease further payments to the ETIF but still be responsible for deported individuals’ living costs. However, past payments would not be recoverable. If Rwanda breaches the agreement, the UK can seek reimbursement for payments from that year, excluding previous years.

The disclosed costs only account for direct expenses related to the partnership, excluding broader costs associated with implementing the Illegal Migration Act. The Home Office argues that the estimated cost per night for hotel accommodation for asylum seekers is £140, with the overall taxpayer expense over five years exceeding £150,000 per asylum seeker.

A Home Office spokesperson defended the scheme as a “bold, long-term solution” and asserted that it would send individuals to Rwanda while being cost-effective. The spokesperson highlighted the rising costs of housing asylum seekers and emphasized the need to address illegal migration.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, criticized the Tories, calling the Rwanda initiative a “national scandal” with higher costs than previously acknowledged. Cooper urged Rishi Sunak, who has championed the scheme, to be held accountable for the perceived failure.

Latest articles

US: 40% of people exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution

According to a recent report by the American Lung Association, nearly 40% of people in the US are exposed to unhealthy levels of air...

Profits dip, Tesla comes up with new models

Tesla's profits have significantly declined this year, prompting the company to accelerate the release of new models and cut thousands of jobs in an...

Greece: Athens covered with orange Sahara dust haze

An intense orange haze has enveloped Athens, creating a surreal landscape as vast clouds of Sahara Desert dust have drifted over the city. This...

Argentina: People protest against cuts to public universities

Tens of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, on Tuesday, to protest and for voicing their opposition...

Related articles