Press Story

  • UK will have to pay up to around £230,000 per asylum seeker, compared to costs of £55,000 per person of pre-Rwanda system
  • Rwanda payments for initial cohort of 20,000 irregular arrivals could reach up to £3.9bn

New analysis by IPPR reveals the true costs of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda to be in the billions.

As part of the Rwanda deal, the UK has to pay up-front fixed costs of £370m, followed by a further £120m once 300 people are relocated to Rwanda plus £20,000 for each person relocated as part of the Economic Transformation and Integration Fund (ETIF).

In addition to this, the UK must pay up to £150,874 per person relocated, to cover the costs of asylum processing and integration, as well as an extra £500 for healthcare.

The precise costs will vary depending on how many people relocated to Rwanda end up leaving the country within five years. For each person who leaves, the UK is expected to contribute an extra £10,000 to facilitate their departure but otherwise stops their ongoing payments.

There are already an estimated 20,000 people who have arrived irregularly in the UK since the Illegal Migration Act was passed, and which, if the Act was implemented in full, would need to be sent to a third country, like Rwanda. IPPR estimates the total payments to Rwanda for removing this cohort would range between £1.1bn and £3.9bn. It would cost £1.1bn even if every asylum seeker left Rwanda straight away, while it would cost £3.9bn if all stayed for at least five years.

Moreover, the UK taxpayer has to pay further operational fees, including staffing costs, legal costs and escorting costs.

In total, the cost of sending one asylum seeker to Rwanda could be as much as £228,000 – based on an assumed quarterly departure rate from Rwanda of 0.5 per cent. This compares to the cost of around £53,000 to house an asylum seeker in UK accommodation for two years while their application is being processed.

Even if the Rwanda scheme successfully acts as a deterrent, it would require a large majority of asylum seekers (up to 77 per cent) to be deterred for the cost of the Rwanda scheme to just break even, a highly unlikely outcome.

Marley Morris, IPPR associate director for migration, trade and communities, said:

“Aside from the ethical, legal and practical objections, the Rwanda scheme is exceptionally poor value for money. For it to break even, it will need to show a strong deterrent effect, for which there is no compelling evidence. Under the government’s plans, billions could be sent to Rwanda to remove people who have already arrived irregularly since the Illegal Migration Act was passed. The only winner from this scheme appears to be the Rwandan government itself, which has already secured hundreds of millions without doing much at all.”


Marley Morris, associate director for migration at IPPR, is available for interview


Liam Evans, Senior Digital and Media Officer: 07419 365334

David Wastell, Director of News and Communications: 07921 403651


  1. The full analysis by Marley Morris, Costing the Rwanda plan, can be found here from 00:01 on Monday 18 March 2024 (advanced copies available upon request):
  2. IPPR’s latest analysis on the asylum backlog can be found here:
  3. IPPR’s 2023 briefing on the asylum system can be found here:
  4. IPPR (the Institute for Public Policy Research) is an independent charity working towards a fairer, greener, and more prosperous society. We are researchers, communicators, and policy experts creating tangible progressive change, and turning bold ideas into common sense realities. Working across the UK, IPPR, IPPR North, and IPPR Scotland are deeply connected to the people of our nations and regions, and the issues our communities face. We have helped shape national conversations and progressive policy change for more than 30 years. From making the early case for the minimum wage and tackling regional inequality, to proposing a windfall tax on energy companies, IPPR’s research and policy work has put forward practical solutions for the crises facing society.