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The newly released annual report also states there is a ‘critical‘ risk of the asylum support system failing and a high risk of ongoing legal challenges.
Financial accounts reveal the Home Office is spending £8 million a day housing migrants in hotels—£2 million more than costs quoted by the home secretary.
On Monday, Suella Braverman told the Commons her department was spending £6 million on hotel accommodation for illegal migrants.
However, the latest Home Office Annual Report (pdf) published on Tuesday contradicts the figure, while also warning the small boats crisis is placing an “unsustainable pressure” on the asylum system and accommodation services, costing taxpayers more than £3 billion a year.
The 2022-2023 annual report also reveals there is a “critical risk” that the asylum support system fails and a “high” risk that the Home Office will fail to manage the illegal Channel arrivals “within acceptable operational limits.”
It also graded the possibility that the UK’s partnership with France “does not meet the stated ambition of drastically reducing the number of small boat crossings” as “high risk”
The risk that the Home Office fails to prevent deaths in the immigration system was also listed as critical.
The report goes on to state that, while plans to deport migrants to a safe country such as Rwanda are grounded, the department is at a “high” risk of legal challenges leading to “significant increased workloads and legal costs, reputational damage, and potential requirement for new policies.”
There is also a “high” risk that the Home Office cannot increase deportations due to insufficient detention capacity, charter flights and staff, although this has been downgraded from a critical risk.
The Illegal Migration Act, which received Royal Assent in July, is designed to give powers to deport asylum seekers arriving via unauthorised routes either back to their home country or to Rwanda.
The £140 million deal to send migrants to the East African nation, however, is held up in the courts, with a deportation flight yet to leave the runway.
The Act, according to the Home Office’s annual report, “goes further than ever before” to prevent the arrival of small boats but said “legislative changes take time and there is no single silver bullet”.
It added: “In the meantime, we must take action to address the unacceptable costs of housing migrants in hotels which is costing the taxpayer around £8 million a day.”
Reacting to the report, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the new figures showed the Tories had “busted the Home Office budget”. (PA)
“This report illustrates the staggering costs of the Tories’ asylum chaos, with the taxpayer now spending an astronomical £8 million a day on hotels and the costs still going up and up,” she said in a statement.
“That is the price of the Conservatives’ utter failure to get a grip on this issue—now costing over £3 billion a year.
“Shockingly, the cost of hotel accommodation has gone up by a third since Rishi Sunak promised to end hotel use.
“The Tories have busted the Home Office budget, they’ve broken the asylum system, and the British people are paying the price.”
Home Secretary Suella Braverman tours a building site on the outskirts of Kigali during her visit to Rwanda, to see houses that are being constructed that could eventually house deported migrants from the UK, on March 18, 2023. (PA)
The Home Office received an increase of over £3 billion at the Supplementary Estimates to deal with asylum pressures, the report states.
That included £720 million to implement measures set out by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in April 2022 to fix the UK’s asylum system.
A further £1.6 million of funding was provided to alleviate pressures within the asylum system, according to the accounts with another £658 million to support the Afghanistan resettlement scheme.
Writing in the report’s introduction, Mrs. Braverman said the Rwanda deal is “crucial” to cutting taxpayer costs on illegal immigration
“We must stop the boats. Illegal immigration is unfair on taxpayers and would-be immigrants who play by the rules, has an unbearable impact on public services and local communities, enriches the gangs, and is lethally dangerous,” she wrote.
“The Illegal Migration Act is a vital step in securing our borders. It places a cap on the number of people seeking protection that the UK will resettle via safe and legal routes, radically narrows the challenges and appeals that can suspend removal and tightens modern slavery laws.”
Citing a similar deal by the Australian government that “offshored asylum claims” to the Micronesian island of Nauru, Mrs. Bravermen said illegal migration dropped from 18,000 a year to “virtually zero.”
She added, “The UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership is crucial to these endeavours.”
The Independent Commission for Aid Impact quoted stakeholders saying the department was now using a “blank cheque” to finance rising housing costs in “poor value for money” hotels.
Between October 2022 and March this year, the number of hotels used by the Home Office to house illegal immigrants almost doubled from around 200 to 386, it stated.
A group of people thought to be migrants crossing the Channel in a small boat traveling from the coast of France and heading in the direction of Dover, Kent on Aug. 29, 2023.(PA Media)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made stopping the boats one of his top five priorities ahead of a likely general election next year.
Since entering Downing Street, provisional figures suggest at least 31,000 asylum seekers have crossed the Channel since his appointment, while almost 24,000 have arrived in 2023, Home Office statistics show.
Ms. Cooper said Labour would end hotel use and stop the perilous migrant crossings by targeting the criminal gangs that are supporting human trafficking.
It comes after she and party leader Sir Keir Starmer used a trip to The Hague in the Netherlands to set out Labour’s plan for tackling irregular migration.
Sir Keir said he would focus on ensuring that an anti-terrorism-style international crackdown could smash the gangs behind the “vile” trade, preventing people from leaving in small boats from France in the first place.
He also held the door open to striking a deal with the European Union in a move that would involve the UK taking a quota of asylum seekers who arrive in the bloc in exchange for the ability to return people who cross the English Channel.
PA Media contributed to this report.