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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The escalating cost of Tory failure on immigration

The Guardian reports on estimates by the Refugee Council that the cost of detaining and accommodating people under the UK government’s controversial plans to tackle Channel crossings could amount to more than £9bn in the first three years.

The paper says that the charity believes that more than 250,000 people, including up to 45,000 children, could have their asylum claims deemed inadmissible under the illegal migration bill in that time:

The charity said its policy experts came up with the estimates as part of an impact assessment of the consequences of the first three years of the bill, assuming it comes into force on 7 November, six months after it was introduced in parliament.

Its calculations are based on the Home Office being able to remove 10,000 people to Rwanda in each of the three years, detaining people for an average of 28 days and accommodating those who are not detained.

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.

“In total, between £8.7bn and £9.6bn will have been spent on detaining and accommodating people impacted by the bill in the first three years of its operation.”

The charity said it used various data sources and made assumptions, including that 88% of people who cross the Channel in a small boat each year subsequently apply for asylum and it costs £120.42 to detain someone each day.

It said its lower estimates assume 50% of people will be detained under the bill and upper estimates assume 100% of people will be detained.

The organisation said it was important to note the Home Office did not publish data on how many people who apply for asylum arrive irregularly other than by boat, and said it based its figures on existing data from reports by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

It said its estimates were likely to still be conservative “based on our experience at the Refugee Council of working with people who arrive in the UK”.

Looking beyond these figures however, the judgement of Enver Solomon, the chief executive of the Refugee Council, on this policy is very important. He has described the bill as “draconian legislation”, that “stains our 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."

Rather than put in place legal routes for refugees, and set up proper international arrangements with other countries to manage and process claims, this government is choosing to villify and persecute victims in defiance of international law and their own treaty obligations.
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