Rwanda: Cost to send one asylum seeker almost £170,000, new Home Office figures show

It will cost the government nearly £170,000 to send a migrant to Rwanda, according to Home Office figures. Credit: PA

Ministers could spend £169,000 on every asylum seeker forcibly removed to Rwanda, according to the Home Office’s own estimates.

Nearly two in five people would need to be deterred from crossing the Channel in small boats for the Illegal Migration Bill to break even, the economic impact assessment published on Monday said.

Judges will hand down their judgment on the stalled Rwanda policy on Thursday as the government battles to fulfil its promise to “stop the boats”.

Last year 45,755 people were detected to have made the perilous journey across the English Channel.

This year, more than 10,000 people have been detected crossing from France in small boats so far this year.

The Home Office document said the policy of relocating migrants to “safe third countries” could save between £106,000 and £165,000 per person.

However, it said the figures are “highly uncertain” and that the measures would need to deter 37% of people from crossing for the costs to be recouped.

The £169,000 cost includes flights and detention, as well as a £105,000 per person payment to Rwanda. The SNP said the scheme would cost a total of £1.8 billion if all 11,000 people who arrived in the UK this year were deported.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Credit: PA

Home Secretary Suella Braverman called for parliament to support her legislation, arguing that the assessment “shows that doing nothing is not an option”.

“We cannot allow a system to continue which incentivises people to risk their lives and pay people smugglers to come to this country illegally, while placing an unacceptable strain on the UK taxpayer,” she said.

“I urge MPs and Peers to back the Bill to stop the boats, so we can crack down on people smuggling gangs while bringing our asylum system back into balance.”

The document said that the asylum system could cost £32 million a day by the end of 2026 if recent trends continue without the reduction of hotel usage.

The assessment said that it is “not possible to estimate with precision the level of deterrence” the Bill will have.

It noted that academic consensus is there is “little to no evidence” that policy changes deter people leaving their home countries and seeking refuge.

What did Boris Johnson really know about Downing Street’s notorious parties? With fresh revelations from our sources, in their own words, listen to the definitive behind-closed-doors story of one of the biggest scandals of our era

Instead, shared language, culture and family ties were accepted to be “strong factors” influencing choice of final destination.

The document said evidence from a variety of countries such as Australia gives a “stronger basis” to think a policy change in the UK could have an impact.

But it acknowledged asylum seekers may not be aware of UK law when making their journeys and may push on regardless because they consider the benefits to be larger than the risks.

The document came as Ms Braverman’s plan to house asylum seekers on barges was branded “unworkable” as she missed her own target for the first vessel to be in place.

The Bibby Stockholm accommodation vessel, which will house around 500 people, is not yet in Portland Port, Dorset, despite Mrs Braverman promising MPs it would be in there a week ago.

The barge is currently in Falmouth, Cornwall, for checks, maintenance and refurbishment work.

On June 5, the home secretary told the Commons “we will see an accommodation barge arrive in Portland within the next fortnight”.

SNP's Alison Thewliss said the cost added 'an extra layer of disgust in those opposed' to plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. Credit: Parliament TV

SNP home affairs spokesperson, Alison Thewliss said: “The astronomical cost of this policy adds an extra layer of disgust in those already opposed to these plans.

“At a time where so many are forced to flee persecution and unimaginable terrors it speaks to the inhumane priorities of the Tories that they would seek to enforce this.

“Especially as for tens of millions across the UK mortgages, energy bills, and food prices continue to soar, all while the UK government does nothing. 

“The Tories are happy to spend billions deporting desperate people but not to help them with basic living costs."

Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper added: “This so-called impact assessment is a complete joke.

“The few figures the Home Office has produced show how chaotic and unworkable their plans are. It suggests that if Rishi Sunak were actually able to deliver on his promise to remove every asylum seeker who arrives in the UK it would cost billions of pounds more even than the Tories’ broken asylum system today.

“Rishi Sunak promised to stop the boats, but all this Bigger Backlog Bill does is make everything worse. They should stand aside and let Labour deliver our sensible plan.”

The home secretary wants to use barges and sites including converted military bases to house asylum seekers and reduce the £6 million daily cost of hotel accommodation while people await a decision on their status.

The Bibby Stockholm was the first barge secured under the plan, but its journey to Portland will now take place in the coming weeks, according to the Home Office.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.