Background to the report

In April 2022, the government announced that it had agreed a Migration and Economic Development Partnership (the partnership) with the Government of Rwanda. The partnership falls under the government’s third country asylum processing policy, which 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. Under the partnership, the UK government provides development funding to Rwanda and will meet processing and integration costs for each relocated person. The Home Office is responsible for administering the partnership.

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On 8 December 2023, the Chairs of the Public Accounts and Home Affairs Committees wrote to the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) to express their concern at the lack of information available to Parliament in relation to spending on the Rwanda partnership. They asked whether the National Audit Office would consider the costs of the partnership, and its value for money.

The C&AG decided to produce a factual report covering the costs incurred to date and the Home Office’s estimate of potential costs when the partnership is operational. This report does not conclude on value for money, given that this would rest on whether the partnership deters individuals from making illegal journeys to claim asylum in the UK.

Scope of the report

This report sets out the direct financial consequences of the Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda. It covers:

  • the costs incurred to date 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

For the purposes of this report, we use the phrase ‘the partnership’ to refer to the agreement reached through the Migration and Economic Development Partnership and the provisional treaty agreed with Rwanda in December 2023 to establish an asylum partnership. Our report does not cover the possible financial implications for other departments, such as the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. We have not considered the wider costs of implementing the Illegal Migration Act 2023 in this report, such as the cost of expanding detention facilities necessary to hold people before they are relocated.

As at February 2024, the UK government had not finalised revised arrangements with the Government of Rwanda to reflect the provisional treaty, so the payment schedule may be revised. The Home Office considers the operation of the partnership as part of its wider modelling of the Illegal Migration Act. At the time of our work, the Home Office was assessing a wide range of options on the timing and number of people who could be relocated.

The Home Office intends to review and update its plans as it progresses arrangements to relocate people to Rwanda. These plans are based on a series of assumptions about what could happen when the partnership is operational and, as a result, are inherently uncertain at this point. Given the level of uncertainty, we have set out the payments and costs that the UK government is committed to make and the basis on which future costs would be incurred. Our report is based on information provided by the Home Office in February 2024.


Publication details

Press release

View press release (1 Mar 2024)

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