Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Holly Bancroft

Small boats bill ‘will force hundreds of thousands into immigration limbo’, charity claims


Suella Braverman’s immigration plan will leave hundreds of thousands of failed asylum seekers living in limbo at a huge cost to the taxpayer because they can’t be deported, new analysis has claimed.

In the first three years of legislation coming into effect, up to 260,000 people, including 40,000 children, will have their asylum claims rejected, the charity Refugee Council has estimated in a wide-ranging analysis of the government’s Illegal Migration bill.

Up to 193,000 of these people will not have been removed by the third year, and will be denied the right to work in the UK, the report from Refugee Council claims. They will be reliant on Home Office support and accommodation indefinitely - creating an £8.7-9.6bn cost to the taxpayer, the charity estimates.

The Home Office said they did not recognise the figures used in the report, adding: “The aim of the Illegal Migration Bill is to act as a deterrent and significantly reduce illegal migration when it comes into force.”

The charity said their estimates did not include the ongoing cost of the Rwanda scheme or the cost of removals and so were likely to be conservative.

The Illegal Migration bill has been slammed by the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, as an “asylum ban”, which would “extinguish” the right of those who arrived irregularly to the UK to seek protection.

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock called the government’s new legislation a “sham that is set to worsen the backlog” in the Commons on Monday. He added: “They do not have the facilities to detain tens of thousands of asylum seekers, or a returns agreement in place with the EU to send back those deemed inadmissible.”

Suella Braverman said the bill would ‘swiftly remove illegal migrants’ (PA)

Home secretary Suella Braverman said that her bill would “detain and swiftly remove illegal migrants”. She added that the government had “secured a big deal with the French to increase cross-channel co-operation”.

Conservative grandee David Davis has previously expressed his concerns about the bill to The Independent, saying: “Leaving aside any moral concerns, it’s got a lot of real practical problems. If we’ve got to lock these people up, then where do they go? Rwanda might take a few thousand - that’s about one month’s arrivals.”

The Refugee Council estimates that between 225,347 and 257,101 people will have their asylum claims deemed inadmissible in the first three years. However they argue that only around 67,000 of these people will be removed, either to their own country or a third country, in this time.

As a result the Home Office will have to significantly increase the capacity they have to keep people in detention - at a cost of £3.8-£4bn over three years, the charity estimates.

The cost of providing other dispersal accommodation for those with rejected asylum claims will be another £4.9-£5.6bn.

The UK is to give France almost £500million over three years to help stop migrants crossing the Channel in small boats (PA)

CEO of the Refugee Council, Enver Solomon, 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. This bill rubbishes the very best of British values.”

A spokesperson from the Home Office said: “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.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.