Government’s migrant plan could cost £9bn in first three years, refugee charity claims
The cost of the government’s plan to clamp down on Channel migrant crossings could amount to more than £9billion in the first three years, according to a refugee charity.
The estimates, from the Refugee Council, are based on up to 250,000 people having their asylum claims deemed inadmissible in the first three years under the Illegal Migration Bill.
The charity, which has publicly opposed the legislation, also estimates 10,000 people per year being sent to Rwanda.
“In total, between £8.7 billion and £9.6 billion will have been spent on detaining and accommodating people impacted by the Bill in the first three years of its operation,” the charity said.
However, the government says it “does not recognise” the figures used in the Refugee Council’s report.
The Home Office also says the current asylum system costs £3billion a year, including around £6million a day on hotel accommodation.
The Refugee Council’s policy experts came up with the estimates as part of an impact assessment of the consequences of the first three years of the Illegal Migration Bill.
“In the first three years of the legislation coming into effect, between 225,347 and 257,101 people will have their asylum claims deemed inadmissible. This includes between 39,500 and 45,066 children,” it said in its assessment.
“At the end of the third year, between 161,147 and 192,670 people will have had their asylum claims deemed inadmissible but not have been removed.
“They will be unable to have their asylum claims processed, unable to work and will be reliant on Home Office support and accommodation indefinitely.”
‘We do not recognise these figures’
The charity estimates the Home Office being able to remove 10,000 people to Rwanda in each of the three years, detaining people for an average of 28 days and accommodating those who are not detained.
The charity said it used available data and some assumptions to come up with the cost figure.
Among the assumptions are that 88% of people who cross the Channel in a small boat each year will subsequently apply for asylum and it costs £120.42 to detain someone each day.
However, it said its cost estimates are likely to still be conservative “based on our experience at the Refugee Council of working with people who arrive in the UK”.
Responding to the Refugee Council’s analysis, a Home Office spokesman said: “We do not recognise the figures used in this report.
“The aim of the Illegal Migration Bill is to act as a deterrent and significantly reduce illegal migration when it comes into force.”
The Home Office currently has a backlog of more than 160,000 immigration cases and only a small number of countries available to which the government can send failed asylum seekers.
The Illegal Migration Bill grants the government the power to deny asylum applications from those who have entered the UK illegally, most notably by arriving in small boats.
The home secretary’s outline of the bill states that if you arrive illegally in the UK “you will be detained with no recourse to immigration bail or judicial review within the first 28 days”.
It adds: “We can maintain detention thereafter so long as we have a reasonable prospect of removal.”
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People in immigration detention in the UK are housed at immigration removal centres, residential short-term holding facilities or holding rooms at ports and airports.
The government also routinely houses refugees in hotels and hostels but the prime minister said in December this will stop and “disused holiday parks, surplus military sites and university halls” will be used instead.
Rwanda flights ‘by the summer’
It comes after a government source told Sky News that it hoped to start getting deportation flights to Rwanda “by the summer”.
The home secretary signed an update to the government’s migrants agreement with the central African country last weekend, expanding its scope to “all categories of people who pass through safe countries and make illegal and dangerous journeys to the UK”.
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A Home Office statement said it would allow the government to deliver on its new Illegal Migration Bill as it would mean those coming to the UK illegally, who “cannot be returned to their home country”, will be “in scope to be relocated to Rwanda”.
No one has made the journey yet.
A flight was stopped at the eleventh hour in June last year after an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
Earlier this month, the prime minister announced a package that will see a new detention centre established in France as well as the deployment of more French personnel and enhanced technology to patrol beaches in a shared effort to drive down illegal migration.
Throughout 2022, some 45,728 people crossed to the UK via the Channel – up 60% on the previous year.