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The National Audit Office’s investigation into the costs of the UK-Rwanda partnership


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Following a request from the Chairs of the Public Accounts and Home Affairs Committees, the National Audit Office has published a report on the costs to date of setting up the Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda. The report also looks at the basis on which future costs would be incurred. Outside the scope of the report is the wider costs of implementing the Illegal Migration Act 2023, such as the expansion of the detention estate.

Key findings

The Home Office would make two different types of payments under the partnership, the first is a payment of £370 million to the Economic Transformation and Integration Fund, which is to support economic growth in Rwanda. £220 million of this has already been paid to Rwanda, and further payments of £50 million each will be made in April this year and then 2025 and 2026.

Once 300 people have been sent to Rwanda, the Home Office will pay a further £120 million to the fund. Payment of £20,000 per person will also be made to the fund.

The second type of payment is to cover asylum processing and operational costs for people sent to Rwanda. The Home Office will pay a five year integration package of £151,000 for each person, to cover accommodation and other essential items such as food, medical services, education and integration programmes. The intention is that people would be sent to Rwanda up until March 2028 and so the Home Office would be making payments until March 2033.

The payments are made in stages over five years if a person remains in Rwanda. If someone decides to leave Rwanda, the government will be paid £10,000 to help facilitate that departure. For context, it is worth revisiting this report on the “voluntary” departure from Rwanda by those sent there previously by Israel under a similar agreement. Perhaps in light of this, the Home Office has made a working assumption that 10% of people sent to Rwanda may voluntarily leave.

Despite the fact that no one has been sent to Rwanda, the Home Office has already paid £20 million to Rwanda as an advance payment to be offset against future processing and operational costs. Other costs that the report says may arise but the Home Office does not expect to be significant include costs for the training and development of Rwandan officials. Given the government is trying to send people to Rwanda imminently, one might think that any training of officials should have already happened or at least be in progress.

The Home Office has itself incurred costs in setting up the partnership, including the costs of legal challenges. Costs incurred to February 2024 are £20 million which is expected to increase to £28 million by the end of this tax year. Millions more are to be spent on training, escorting and flights.

The report also sets out the monitoring agreements put in place by the Home Office, which includes enhanced responsibilities for the Monitoring Committee for at least the first three months after people start being sent there. During this period, the committee (which has four members, one of whom is Alexander Downer) will monitor activity to ensure rapid identification and response to any shortcomings.

Rwanda will need to submit a quarterly monitoring report within 45 days of the end of each quarter, to allow the Home Office to check the accuracy of payments made in relation to asylum processing and operational costs. In relation to payments to the fund, we are told that “mitigations [are] in place, including a liaison officer and annual audit”.

There is a break clause in the agreement which can be activated by either government and termination will take effect three months later. No further payments will have to be made to the fund once the break clause has been activated, but no previously made payments will be recoverable. The agreement can also be paused if there is a court order that prevents its lawful operation, and if paused, then payments to the fund will be delayed during this period.


The report emphasises the level of uncertainty that still surrounds the plan to relocate people to Rwanda. Despite this, it is still useful to have clarity on the financial elements of the agreement.

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Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.