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Asylum Accommodation and UK-Rwanda partnership

Inquiry

Asylum accommodation

The Home Office is responsible for asylum and protection in the UK, including supporting destitute people who seek asylum by providing financial support and accommodation. At the end of June 2023, accommodation was provided to around 113,000 people seeking asylum, around 51,000 of whom were staying in hotels. In 2022-23, the Home Office spent around £3.6 billion on asylum support, of which £2.3 billion was spent on hotels and £0.4 billion on other types of accommodation.

The Home Office wants to reduce the use of hotels and is trying to procure accommodation in local areas while people wait for an asylum decision. It is also using, or seeking to use, sites such as barges or disused military bases.

The Illegal Migration Act 2023 will place a duty on the Home Secretary to remove all those who arrive irregularly to the UK, and gives powers to the Home Office to detain people prior to their removal. This may bring about a significant change in the type of accommodation the Home Office requires.

Rwanda partnership

In April 2022, the government announced a Migration and Economic Development Partnership with the Government of Rwanda. The partnership, administered by the Home Office, falls under the government’s third country asylum processing policy. This is a process whereby individuals identified as being in the UK illegally, or seeking asylum after arriving illegally, are relocated to a safe third country.

The partnership is designed to deter people from making illegal journeys to the UK. It runs for five years until April 2027, and may be renewed. Under the partnership, the UK government provides development funding to Rwanda and will meet processing and integration costs for each relocated person. In November 2023, the Supreme Court ruled that the policy was unlawful and the Government responded by introducing the Safety of Rwanda Bill, which is currently making its passage through Parliament. There has been very limited transparency of the costs of the partnership and the Permanent Secretary of the Home Office requested a Ministerial Direction on the grounds there was insufficient evidence to conclude the policy would deliver value for money.

On 8 December 2023, the Chairs of the Public Accounts and Home Affairs Committees wrote to the Comptroller and Auditor General to express concern at the lack of information available to Parliament on spending on the Rwanda partnership and to ask if the NAO would consider the matter.

The NAO’s subsequent factual report on its investigation into the costs of the UK-Rwanda Partnership sets out the costs incurred to date and the Home Office’s estimate of potential costs when the partnership is operational. The report does not conclude on the value for money of the partnership which would depend on whether it deters individuals from making illegal journeys to claim asylum in the UK. 

Based on the NAO’s reports into asylum accommodation and the partnership with Rwanda, the Committee will take evidence from senior officials from the Home Office on subjects including:

  • the costs incurred to date from the Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda and the basis on which future costs would be incurred when the partnership is operational;
  • the Home Office’s oversight and approach to monitoring the partnership;
  • the Home Office’s current and future plans for accommodating and detaining people who arrive in the UK to seek asylum;
  • the costs of different asylum accommodation and how the Home Office oversees such projects.

The Committee’s inquiry will not consider the merits of asylum policy. The Committee is also unable to consider individual cases. If you need help with an individual problem you are having, you may wish to contact your constituency MP.

If you have evidence on these issues, please submit it here by 23:59 on Tuesday 2 April 2024.

Please look at the requirements for written evidence submissions and note that the Committee cannot accept material as evidence that is published elsewhere.