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Sunak's Asylum Scheme: The High Cost of Controversial Deportation Policy

Examining the Financial Implications and Public Backlash of the UK's Rwanda Relocation Plan

By: Nour Elshenawy

Rishi Sunak’s ambitious initiative to relocate asylum seekers to Rwanda has come under intense scrutiny following revelations from Whitehall’s official spending watchdog. According to the National Audit Office, the plan is projected to cost taxpayers a staggering £1.8 million for each of the initial 300 individuals deported to Kigali. This eye-watering sum, totaling over half a billion pounds for the entire scheme, has sparked widespread concern, particularly given the lack of transparency surrounding the deal's full financial implications. Despite nearly three years of calls for transparency, successive prime ministers, home secretaries, and senior Home Office officials have repeatedly cited "commercial confidentiality" to withhold detailed cost breakdowns.

Picture by 12109 at Pixabay

The disclosure of the scheme's exorbitant costs has prompted a chorus of disapproval from politicians and watchdog groups alike. Diana Johnson, chair of the home affairs select committee, expressed astonishment at the final figures and raised serious questions about the transparency and accountability of the government's handling of the matter. "These are staggering figures," Johnson remarked, emphasizing the need for greater clarity and oversight. She further highlighted concerns regarding the efficacy of the scheme as a deterrent to irregular migration, noting the lack of evidence supporting its effectiveness.

Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, echoed Johnson's sentiments, describing the scheme as a "national scandal" and criticizing the government's failure to deliver tangible results despite significant financial investment. "In order to send less than 1% of UK asylum seekers to Rwanda on a few symbolic flights, the taxpayer will be forced to fork out over half a billion pounds," Cooper remarked, emphasizing the disproportionate cost burden borne by taxpayers.

The Home Office's allocation of £220 million to the economic transformation and integration fund since April 2022, coupled with additional payments totaling £150,874 per deported individual, underscores the scale of the financial commitment involved. Despite assurances from government officials that the scheme represents a "bold, long-term solution" to illegal migration, critics argue that it is a costly and ineffective approach that fails to address the underlying challenges of the asylum and immigration system.

As the debate over the future of asylum and immigration policy in the UK intensifies, the Rwanda scheme serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities and challenges inherent in addressing irregular migration effectively. With significant sums of taxpayer money at stake and no concrete results to show for it, calls for greater transparency, accountability, and a reevaluation of the government's approach are likely to grow louder in the coming months.


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