'National Scandal': Tory Rwanda Scheme Set To Cost Taxpayers Half A Billion Pounds

Priti Patel signs the partnership agreement with Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta on April 14, 2022.
Priti Patel signs the partnership agreement with Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta on April 14, 2022. Anadolu via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda could end up costing the government half a billion pounds, it has emerged.

A report into the scheme by the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed that the Home Office has already paid the Rwandan government £220m, despite the fact that no one has yet been deported to the east African country.

In addition, the government spending watchdog said the UK is set to pay another £50m a year between 2024 and 2027.

On top of this, Britain will also give Rwanda £20,000 for every asylum seeker who is deported to the country.

And if 300 people end up being deported, the east African country will get an extra one-off payment of £120m - bringing the overall total to a staggering £500m.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper branded the cost “a national scandal”.

Sunak has made getting the policy up and running a key part of his pledge to “stop the boats” carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel.

Under the scheme, which was signed by former home secretary Priti Patel in April, 2022, people who enter the UK illegally will have their claims for asylum processed in Rwanda, before settling permanently in the country.

But the policy has been beset by legal challenges and not a single person has so far been deported.

Responding to the NAO’s findings, Yvette Cooper said: “This report reveals the national scandal the Tories have been trying to hide.

“In order to send less than one per cent of UK asylum seekers to Rwanda on a few symbolic flights, the taxpayer will be forced fork out over half a billion pounds - with no ability to recover any of the money already sent.”

She added: “Rishi Sunak has staked his position on this scheme. He must account for this fiasco.”

And Diana Johnson, the Labour chair of the Commons home affairs committee, said the report was “staggering”.

“For all its rhetoric about ensuring value for money in the asylum and immigration system it is unclear how schemes such as Rwanda or Bibby Stockholm achieve that,” she said.

The government hopes once its latest Rwanda legislation passes flights will be able to take off by the spring.

It due to be debated again in the House of Lords next week, where it has already been savaged as by peers including the Archbishop of Canterbury who branded it “damaging”.