Illegal Migration Bill: cost to carry out plans to tackle Channel crossings 'could hit £9bn in three years'

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The Illegal Migration Bill could see those reaching the UK through illegal routes removed from the country and prohibited from re-seeking asylum in the UK

A refugee charity has warned that the government's new plans to stop illegal Channel boat crossings could cost more than £9 billion in the first three years of legislation being active.

The controversial new Illegal Migration Bill has been introduced by Home Secretary Suella Braverman to curb illegal migration, particularly those attempting to reach the UK via illegal small boat crossings across the English Channel. This includes deporting those awaiting asylum decisions to the African nation of Rwanda.

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The plans have been criticised by many, including the UN's refugee agency, which has denounced the bill and plans to deport those seeking asylum in the UK.

Policy experts from the Refugee Council have now said that the cost of detaining and accommodating people under the bill could also add to the criticism levelled against it. The charity said that the estimation of £9 billion in three years is based on the Home Office being able to remove 10,000 people to Rwanda each year, as well as detaining those removed for an average of 28 days and accommodating those who have not been detained by authorities.

What did the Refugee Council say about the findings?

The Refugee Council assessment said: “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.

“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.

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Home Secretary Suella Braverman tours a building site on the outskirts of Kigali during her visit to Rwanda (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau)Home Secretary Suella Braverman tours a building site on the outskirts of Kigali during her visit to Rwanda (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau)
Home Secretary Suella Braverman tours a building site on the outskirts of Kigali during her visit to Rwanda (Photo: PA/Stefan Rousseau) | PA/Stefan Rousseau

“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 that the estimates are still likely to be conservative “based on our experience at the Refugee Council of working with people who arrive in the UK”. It added that under the Illegal Migration Bill, 250,000 people - including 45,000 children - could have their asylum claim deemed as inadmissible in the first three years alone.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, labelled the plans as "draconian legislation", adding that it "stains out country's reputation for fairness in the face of adversity." He said: “All the evidence shows that the vast majority of those who come here by so-called irregular routes are refugees escaping bombs and bullets, violence and persecution.

“They take these dangerous journeys as no workable alternatives exist for them – unlike Ukrainians who were rightly able to come to the UK on a visa scheme."

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How has the Home Office responded?

Previously the government said that the current asylum system costs the country £3bn per year. This included £6million per day to accommodate people in hotels in the UK.

A representative for the Home Office refuted the figures generated by the Refugee Council. They 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 UK has a proud history of supporting those in need through our safe and legal routes, offering protection to almost half a million men, women and children.

“While we are committed to ensuring there are routes to safety for vulnerable people across the globe, we must grip the rise in illegal migration and stop the boats. That is why we are making people who come to the UK illegally liable for detention and swift removal.”

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