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Illegal Migration Act Could Block Billions of Pounds of Home Office Funding

An independent watchdog has found that much of the Home Office’s current spending on asylum in the UK could become ineligible if the Illegal Migration bill comes into effect.

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Funding at Risk

A report has found that the Home Office could soon be ineligible to receive official funding as a result of the Illegal Migration bill coming into effect.

The analysis was carried out by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), an independent watchdog that analyses the effectiveness of government spending on domestic and foreign aid.

The findings of the report have found that the Home Office could stand to lose up to £3.6 billion in funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

Reasons for Ineligibility

The specific reasons for the Home Office potentially losing funding are due to the way that certain types of aid are categorised.

As the ICAI report, part of the Home Office’s spending on refugees and asylum seekers is classed as Official Development Assistance (ODA).

ODA covers costs for things such as an initial year’s cost of housing and food for refugees, and primarily comes from the FCDO rather than the Home Office’s own budget.

However, a stipulation of ODA is that it must be used for humanitarian purposes only – it cannot be used for purposes of “coercion”, such as detention or deportation.

Therefore, asylum seekers who travel to the UK through what the Illegal Migration bill deems as “illegal means” will not be eligible for ODA, as they would be automatically detained and marked for removal by the Home Office.

This report comes in the wake of the news that Home Office spending on asylum rose to almost £4 billion in the year ending June 2023.

Statement from ICAI Chief Commissioner

The Chief Commissioner of the ICAI, Dr Tamsyn Barton, has criticised the current model of distributing aids funding. In a previous report, she that the £3.6 billion spent on in-country support for refugees was at the expense of other FCDO aid programmes being cut, which in turn reduced the impact of UK aid internationally.

In a statement with the most recent ICAI report, she has stated:

“Our analysis of the aid rules suggests that the Illegal Migration Act, if fully implemented, could close off the main source of funding the government is using to house asylum seekers. Whereas currently, the FCDO has to cut other aid programmes in order to meet these costs, they would have to be met by the Home Office out of its own budget.

“ICAI highlighted the value-for-money problems caused by the current arrangements in our earlier report, including inadequate management by the Home Office of its asylum contracts. And using so much of the aid budget on UK costs such as hotels, rather than supporting people in their home countries, is inequitable as well as inefficient.”

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