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Along with the humanitarian concerns around the government’s unlawful Rwanda, it has also been found to be exceptionally difficult to justify financially.

An eye-watering analysis by the National Audit Office (NAO) found the controversial Rwanda scheme is set to cost well over £500 million for 300 asylum seekers. However a think tank claimed this week that the overall costs were more likely to balloon into the billions. 

Most recent estimates by Whitehall’s official spending watchdog disclosed that the UK will pay at least £370m to the government of Rwanda. This broke down into £220m already paid as of February 2024 and £150m agreed to be paid as three payments of £50m each in April 2024, 2025 and 2026. 

Further payments include £20,000 for each individual relocated and an additional payment of £120m once 300 people have been forced to move to Rwanda. 

Dame Diana Johnson, chair of the Home Affairs Committee said these figures were “staggering”, with the NAO only asked to assess the accuracy of the Home Office’s cost estimates after a select committee expressed concern around the lack of available information about spending on the scheme. 

However the most recent calculations published on Monday by the IPPR think tank claimed the scheme will end up costing the UK taxpayer billions of pounds. Furthermore it estimated the cost of the new scheme will be around five times more than housing an asylum seeker in the UK.

Pre-Rwanda system, it costs £55,000 per person, while the think tank estimated it will cost around £230,000 per asylum seeker through the Rwanda scheme. 

IPPR found the total cost would be in the billions and said that, even if the scheme was a successful act of deterrent, it would require a large majority of asylum seekers, over three quarters, to be deterred just to break even – a highly unlikely outcome.

Marley Morris, IPPR associate director for migration, trade and communities said there were no winners in this scheme, except the Rwandan government, which has already secured hundreds of millions “without doing much”. 

“Aside from the ethical, legal and practical objections, the Rwanda scheme is exceptionally poor value for money,” said Morris. 

“For it to break even, it will need to show a strong deterrent effect, for which there is no compelling evidence.”

In defence to the wracked up cost of the unlawful Rwanda plan, the government has said the annual cost to house asylum seekers in the UK is set to reach £11 billion by 2026, and said it was “right to fund solutions to break the unsustainable cycle of ‘illegal migration’”.

(Photo credit: UK Home Office)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

The post This is how much it will cost to send someone to Rwanda appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.

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