Britain will save money in the “longer term” by sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda, a minister has said after the reported cost of about £30,000 a person was described as “eye-watering”.
Defending the decision to fly out many of those who arrive on the Kent coast to a country more than 4,000 miles away, Home Office minister Tom Pursglove said it would “crush” the business model of people smugglers.
He added that those transferred would be able to embark on “fully prosperous” lives in Rwanda, and that the short-term costs would be “pretty equivalent” to what the UK is now paying to accommodate those claiming asylum.
But another Tory MP, Andrew Mitchell, said it would be cheaper to put up those arriving in Britain at the Ritz for a year.
The former international development secretary said the new scheme would prove “incredibly expensive” for British taxpayers – as well as being impractical and immoral.
He added that a cost of up to £30,000 per person, covering their accommodation before and after the journey, as well as the one-way plane ticket to Rwanda, was “eye-watering”.
The cost factor has worried other Conservative MPs. ITV News said the Home Office permanent secretary had sought a “ministerial direction” because of concerns about value for money – meaning the home secretary, Priti Patel, had to override civil servants’ qualms.
But Pursglove said £120m had been earmarked for the initial cost of the scheme.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “As we move forward, we will continue to make contributions to Rwanda as they process the cases, in a manner that is similar to the amount of money we are spending on this currently here in the UK.
“But longer term, by getting this under control, it should help us to save money. We are spending £5m per day accommodating…
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