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© UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

£2.7bn cost for implementing the cold-hearted refugee bill

Together With Refugees reveals the additional costs to the taxpayer for implementing the Nationality and Borders Bill. InA Bill at What Price?’ we cost the new elements in the asylum system that are set out in the bill.  

In response to the continued failure of the Government to publish its long-promised Impact Assessment for the Bill, we calculated the costs ourselves. The government is required to publish the costs for any proposed new legislation.  The publication of our report comes at a critical moment – ahead of the the House of Lords first vote taking place in just two weeks, when defeat for the Government is looking increasingly likely. 

The bill would criminalise people like former refugee, Gulwali Passarlay. He arrived in the UK in the back of a lorry at 13 years old having fled the Taliban in fear for his life.  He is now an author and campaigner.  

“If I had arrived with the Bill in place I would have been criminalised and punished for coming here in the back of a lorry,” explains Gulwali Passarlay. “I could have been put in prison for up to four years. I could have been sent back to a country I passed through to claim asylum, even though they were not safe for me and I was arrested and treated badly. I could have been separated from my brother and uncle and sent to offshore detention facilities, where I could be stranded in limbo for years.” – Gulwali Passarlay 

The £2.7 billion costs cover five major new components of the UK asylum and refugee system proposed in the Bill.  

£717.6 million a year: To set up and run new large, out-of-town accommodation centres to house up to 8,000 people seeking refugee protection, instead of in the community.  

£1.44 billion a year: To set up and run a completely new offshore processing system to send people seeking refugee protection to another country to be detained while they are assessed and wait for a decision on their claim.   

£432 million a year: To imprison people seeking refugee protection who arrive via irregular routes – such as in a small boat across the Channel – a method of arrival criminalised in the Bill.  

£117.4 million a year: To remove people seeking refugee protection from the UK to another country if the UK government says they should claim asylum there instead.  

£1.5 million a year: for the cost of extra bureaucratic processing for people allocated Temporary Protection Status who have already passed a rigorous assessment recognising them as a refugee but to be required an additional assessment every two and half years (6).  

“This is an astonishing amount of additional public money for the unworkable and cruel proposals in the Bill – enough to pay for more than 80,000 NHS nurses a year,”
explains Sabir Zazai, Together With Refugees spokesperson, CEO of coalition member Scottish Refugee Council and a refugee himself.
Having fled their homes in fear and struggled to find safety, these measures would leave women, children and men facing further hardship in prison, isolated in another country indefinitely, separated from family and facing insecurity and indecision.” 

We’re very concerned about all aspects of this cruel and inhumane bill. Aware of the political realities and the government majority we’re focusing on two key priorities where we could have maximum impact to lessen the harmful impacts. We are calling on the removal of clause 11, which proposes treating refugees differently based on how they arrive here, rather than their need for protection. We’re also calling for more safe routes for people to seek protection, and specifically requesting that the Government  commits to a target to resettle 10,000 of the world’s most vulnerable refugees a year.