The UK government has confirmed an additional £100 million in funding to facilitate the relocation of asylum seekers to Rwanda, following a prior payment of £140 million earlier this year.
According to Sir Matthew Rycroft, the Home Office's top civil servant, an additional payment of £50 million is expected in the coming year.
The relocation initiative, introduced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022, aims to process and potentially resettle asylum seekers in Rwanda, as a deterrent for those attempting to cross the English Channel in small boats. Despite legal challenges causing repeated delays, no asylum seekers have been sent from the UK under this scheme.
The revelation of the increased funding came shortly after Chancellor Rishi Sunak's commitment to revive the plan following the resignation of the immigration minister. This move is part of the government's effort to address the policy, which was deemed unlawful by the Supreme Court last month.
Sir Matthew emphasized that the additional payments are unrelated to a new treaty signed this week between the UK and Rwanda. Legal migration minister Tom Pursglove asserted that the funds are essential to ensure the robustness of the Rwanda policy, which plays a pivotal role in reducing the government's daily expenditure on housing migrants in UK hotels, currently estimated at £8 million.
The disclosed figures were provided in response to inquiries from the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee. Dame Meg Hiller, chair of the spending watchdog, expressed concerns about transparency, stating that the government's delayed disclosure of the full costs suggested a potential lack of transparency.
Labour criticized the additional costs, with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper questioning the government's commitment to the scheme, branding it a "total farce." The Home Office clarified that Rwanda initially can accommodate 200 people annually, with plans to increase this number in the future.
In an attempt to overcome legal challenges, Chancellor Sunak introduced emergency legislation compelling judges to treat Rwanda as a safe country. The bill grants ministers powers to disregard sections of the Human Rights Act but falls short of dismissing the European Convention on Human Rights, sparking opposition within the Conservative Party.
Despite reassurances from ministers, concerns persist over the legislation's efficacy in preventing legal challenges and its ability to address the issue of migrant removal to Rwanda. The bill is set to face parliamentary scrutiny in the coming week, with ongoing debates on its potential impact and the need for further amendments.