Rt Hon Priti Patel’s response to Matthew Rycroft (accessible)

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house secretary

2 Marsham Street

London

SW1P 4DF

April 13, 2022

Dear Matthew,

MIGRATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PARTNERSHIP

Thank you for your letter of April 13 outlining your current assessment of the Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda as the Accountable Accountant. As you know, tackling the long-standing problem of illegal migration is a top priority for this government.

Working together, we have already successfully ended free movement and introduced our new Australian-style points-based system, introduced the government’s new plan for immigration and the Nationality and Borders Bill. Through these and other efforts, we will build a fair but strong immigration system. It means having an asylum system that prioritizes support through safe and legal pathways for truly vulnerable people, rather than a system open to the game of economic migrants and smugglers, resulting in loss of life.

As we continue to work to make these changes, despite our best efforts, Home Office modeling predicts that the number of small boats is expected to increase further this summer.

As Home Secretary, my main responsibilities are to protect the British public and to act in their interests. This means taking action to address the risks to human life, as well as the growing costs to the UK taxpayer, that illegal migration entails. These costs are now at their highest level in more than two decades. The cost of the asylum system is over £1.5billion a year and we spend over £4.7million every day accommodating migrants in hotels.

We know that there is no single solution to solve the problem of illegal migration. While we understand that it is not possible for HMG to accurately model deterrence effect from day one, with Rwanda, we believe this policy is our best chance of achieving that effect.

Only by introducing new incentives and effective deterrents into the system, as our international partners such as Denmark, Greece and Australia have successfully done, can we tackle the criminal gangs facilitating illegal entry and break their murderous business model.

I acknowledge your assessment of the immediate value for money of this proposal. However, I note that without action, costs will continue to rise, lives will continue to be lost, and together we have built safeguards into our agreement to protect taxpayer funding. And while accepting the constraints of the accounting officer framework set out by HM Treasury, I also believe that there are credible investment arguments for saving for the long term.

Finally, I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of our frontline staff who responded professionally and tirelessly to a series of unpredictable migration flows into the UK following events beyond their control. Every day I am struck by the extremely difficult work that we are asking Home Office officials and Border Force operational staff at all levels to undertake. It is in this spirit that I also believe that it is imperative to act now to mitigate the impact on staff well-being as well as longer-term operational and financial pressures on the department.

It would therefore be unwise in my view as Home Secretary to allow the absence of quantifiable and dynamic modeling – which is inevitable when crafting a response to global crises influenced by so many factors geopolitics such as climate change, war and conflict – to delay the implementation of a policy that we believe will reduce illegal migration, save lives and ultimately break the gangs’ business model of smugglers. I therefore formally instruct you, as an accountant, to move this system forward with immediate effect, by managing the risks identified as well as possible. I am grateful for our joint work on this issue, and look forward to continuing to work with you to serve the British people.

Right Honorable Priti Patel MP

house secretary

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