UK's immigration system is broken and anyone who thinks Rwanda plan is silver bullet is wrong, says Patrick Christys

'We await what Boris has to say about the Rwanda deal, but the reality is, it could just be a mere distraction'

Published Last updated

The fact is our current asylum system is broken. I saw a letter from the Home Office this morning that was sent to all local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. The first line of it reads: “The government is fixing the broken asylum system.” The very first line acknowledges that we’re in an absolute mess.

So, by definition something needs to change. A lot needs to change, actually.

As we understand it, there are plans in place to process male asylum seekers who arrive on their own into Britain at centres in Rwanda. This is clearly meant to be a deterrent, a barrier to those individuals travelling here in the first place.

And I can see the logic behind it. There is a hotel near where I live that has been recommissioned by the Home Office and is now housing asylum seekers.

I walked in there the other day because the security was non-existent and, yes, there were a few women and children, but it was mostly single men.

Home Secretary Priti Patel.
Home Secretary Priti Patel.

I suspect that most people in this country would be more inclined to welcome in women and children than young, single men. And perhaps this is what the Rwanda scheme is all about.

But I worry that this is less of a workable scheme and more of a smoke screen. Anyone who thinks the Rwanda option is a silver bullet is wrong.

This morning I was sent a copy of a letter that went out to local authorities last night that said that the Home Office wants to move asylum seekers out of hotels and into private rented properties. So now local authorities, who are already struggling to accommodate their own homeless and the most vulnerable in their communities, will be competing with the Home Office for what little private rental stock there is.

But check this out – the letter states that: ‘If the local authorities are unable to agree an approach to dispersal in their region, then the Home Office and its commercial partners will move ahead with a regional plan.’

This is bully boy tactics. Apparently local authorities will receive a one-off payment of £250-per-asylum seeker they’ve accommodated as of March 27th this year.

The Home Office is also promising more funding to local authorities for additional bed space, according to this letter.

Will these people be able to find work? Will they require additional support from other local services? Local GP surgeries, schools, if they’ve fled genuine trauma will they need mental health counselling. I’m not for one second saying that they should be denied these things, but I am curious as to how local authorities will be able to afford it!

The way I see it is this – councils are going to be financially incentivised to give urgent accommodation to asylum seekers instead of the vulnerable people they already have in their regions. I’m not sure too many people will be very happy about that.

We await what Boris has to say about the Rwanda deal, and the finer points of what that means, but the reality is, ladies and gentlemen, it could just be a mere distraction. It appears the real issue with our asylum seeker system remains very, very close to home.