Rwanda Scheme Will End Up Costing Taxpayers Billions Of Pounds, Claims Think Tank

The UK will pay up to £230,000 for every asylum seeker who is deported to Africa, according to the IPPR.
James Cleverly and Rwanda's foreign minister Vincent Biruta exchange documents after signing a new treaty, in Kigali on December 5, 2023.
James Cleverly and Rwanda's foreign minister Vincent Biruta exchange documents after signing a new treaty, in Kigali on December 5, 2023.
BEN BIRCHALL via Getty Images

The government’s Rwanda scheme will end up costing taxpayers billions of pounds, according to a leading think-tank.

A new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says the UK will have to pay up to £230,000 for every asylum seeker deported to the east African country.

That is around five times as much as it currently costs to house an asylum seeker in the UK.

In total, the IPPR estimates that the Rwanda policy will cost the government between £1.1 and £3.9 billion to deport the 20,000 asylum seekers who have entered the UK via so-called “irregular routes” since last year.

The findings come as MPs prepare to once again debate Rishi Sunak’s flagship Safety of Rwanda Bill.

The prime minister hopes that the first deportation flights will take off in the spring - although transport secretary Mark Harper yesterday refused to guarantee that any deportations will happen before the election.

Marley Morris, the IPPR’s associate director for migration, trade and communities, said: “Aside from the ethical, legal and practical objections, the Rwanda scheme is exceptionally poor value for money.

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

“Under the government’s plans, billions could be sent to Rwanda to remove people who have already arrived irregularly since the Illegal Migration Act was passed.

The only winner from this scheme appears to be the Rwandan government itself, which has already secured hundreds of millions without doing much at all.”

As part of the Rwanda deal agreed by home secretary James Cleverly in December, the UK has to pay £370m up front to the Rwandan government, followed by a further £120m once 300 people are sent there.

The UK also has to pay £20,000 for each person deported, plus up to £150,874 per asylum seeker to cover the costs of asylum processing and integration.

For each person who leaves Rwanda, the UK is also expected to pay an extra £10,000 to facilitate their departure.

According to the IPPR, the total cost of sending one asylum seeker to Rwanda could be as much as £228,000.

But a Home Office spokesperson said: “The report makes a number of assumptions and modelling calculations that we do not recognise.

“Without innovative solutions, the cost of housing asylum seekers could reach up to £11 billion per year by 2026.

“Illegal migration costs lives and perpetuates human trafficking, and it is therefore right that we fund solutions to break this unsustainable cycle.

“The best way of saving taxpayer money is by deterring people from coming here illegally in the first place, and our partnership with Rwanda intends to do just that.”


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