Failed asylum seekers to be paid £3,000 to move to Rwanda

Around 60 migrants cross the English Channel on a small boat
Around 60 migrants cross the English Channel on a small boat - TOLGA AKMEN/SHUTTERSTOCK

Failed asylum seekers are to be offered £3,000 to move to Rwanda under a voluntary scheme drawn up by the Government to help clear the backlog of migrants stuck in Britain.

The new agreement with Rwanda, which is separate to the stalled deportation scheme, is aimed at removing thousands of migrants whose claims have been rejected and cannot remain in the UK, but are unable to return to their own country.

In return for the £3,000 support normally offered to repatriated migrants and the prospect of citizenship in Rwanda, they would be able to opt to be sent to the central African state, deemed by the Government a safe third country.

The move comes as the Government is attempting to get deportation flights off to Rwanda after the scheme has been blocked by legal challenges since June 2022 and amid criticism of the £350 million cost of the agreement with the African state.

The Safety of Rwanda Bill, which is designed to secure the deportation flights, returns to the Commons next week when the Government will reverse Lords amendments in a ping pong battle to get it onto the statute book.

Rwanda deportation flight at Boscombe Down air base
Rwanda deportation flight at Boscombe Down air base - DAN KITWOOD/GETTY IMAGES

Rishi Sunak has made stopping the boats across the Channel one of his key five pledges with the deportation flights central to his strategy of creating a deterrent to further crossings.

New laws mean anyone who arrives illegally will be deported to their home state or a safe third country like Rwanda.

The new scheme is not designed to deter further illegal crossings but instead mirrors existing voluntary returns system that enables failed asylum seekers, foreign criminals and other migrants with no right to remain in the UK to return to their home country.

Under the voluntary returns schemes, they can currently receive financial assistance worth up to £3,000 to return to their “country of origin”.

Rishi Sunak has made stopping the boats across the Channel one of his key five pledges
Rishi Sunak has made stopping the boats across the Channel one of his key five pledges - GETTY IMAGES

However, the new Rwanda deal is the first of its kind because it would mark the first time migrants were paid to leave the UK without going back to their country of origin. Ministers believe the new scheme is legal, as resettlements would be voluntary.

The opportunity will be open to anyone who has had their asylum application rejected, which would apply to tens of thousands of people in the UK.

Any failed asylum seeker who chooses to be relocated will also be entitled to the same five year package of measures as those agreed in April 2022 for migrants forcibly removed.

On arrival in Rwanda, they would get help and housing from the country’s Government for up to five years, as well as integration programmes to help them study, undertake training, and work.

Bedroom accommodation at the Hope Hostel in Kigali, Rwanda, where migrants will stay after arriving from the UK
Bedroom accommodation at the Hope Hostel in Kigali, Rwanda, where migrants will stay after arriving from the UK - VICTORIA JONES/PA

Asylum seekers who refuse the offer of £3,000 will remain left in limbo, unable to officially work or claim benefits and without accommodation.

Last year the Home Office rejected 30,967 asylum applications. A total of 19,253 foreign nationals opted for voluntary resettlement to their home country, of which 4,010 were failed asylum seekers and 15,243 were foreign criminals or visa overstayers. There were an additional 6,393 enforced returns last year.

A report by the National Audit Office earlier this month revealed that the UK Government will pay Rwanda £171,000 for each migrant relocated to the African country, in addition to at least £370 million in other costs.

Stephen Kinnock, shadow immigration minister, said: “Even government ministers are finally recognising that their Rwanda scheme has no chance of succeeding, so they’re resorting to paying people to go there instead.

“We know from the treaty that capacity in Rwanda is very limited, so ministers should now explain what this new idea means for the scheme as it was originally conceived, and they should also make clear how many people they expect to send on this basis, and what the cost will be.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.