THE CONTROVERSIAL immigration plans being drawn up by the UK Government could cost nearly £3bn a year, according to a new analysis.

The Nationality and Borders Bill, which could see asylum seekers and refugees criminalised for trying to seek refuge in the UK, will cost the taxpayer around £2.7bn a year – double what the current system costs.

A report by Together With Refugees, a coalition whose members include the British Red Cross and the Refugee Council, states that the additional spending will be needed to pay for five new elements of the asylum system, as contained within the Bill.

The Home Office has branded the findings ‘pure speculation’.

The new legislation has generated controversy for a number of reasons, including the proposal to send asylum seekers to offshore ‘processing centres’ while their applications to stay in the UK are assessed.

People could also be criminalised for travelling to the UK if they do not do so by one of the Home Office’s predetermined resettlement routes, in a bid to deter people from making dangerous Channel crossings in small boats.

In December, the High Court ruled that the UK Government was wrong to claim that other routes were illegal, while the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, said the measures were not compatible with the UN Refugee convention.

Despite this, Priti Patel is still intent on implementing the legislation.

The analysis published today has estimated the cost of the Bill based on similar polices elsewhere. It states that it would cost around £717.6m a year to set up and run large accommodation centres; £1.44bn a year to run offshore processing centres and £432m a year to imprison people who travel to the UK via other routes that are not predetermined.

It also estimates it would cost a further £117.4m a year to remove people seeking asylum, and £1.5m on administration and checks for people who are granted temporary asylum and who would be subject to checks every two and a half years.

Sabir Zazai, CEO of the Scottish Refigee Council and a refugee himself, said the amount of money needed for the “cruel and unworkable” Bill was “astonishing”.

He said: “Having fled their homes in fear and struggled to find safety, these measures would leave women, children and men facing further hardship in prison, isolated in another country indefinitely, separated from family and facing insecurity and indecision. 

“My life was in danger from the Taliban when I fled Afghanistan to make a long and frightening journey to safety, eventually arriving in the UK in the back of a lorry.

“This Bill would make me a criminal and put me at risk of significant further hardship.

"MPs of all parties must be ready to stand up to challenge the Bill with all their might when it returns to the House of Commons in the coming weeks.”

Stuart McDonald, SNP MP and member of the Home Affairs select committee, said the research “shows, in stark terms, what many MPs have long feared about the huge cost to the taxpayer of implementing the extreme proposals in the Nationality and Borders Bill - on top of its terrible human costs for those feeling war and persecution.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “While lives are being lost in the Channel, we will look at all options available to us.

“Our broken asylum system costs the taxpayer an unacceptable £4.7m a day on hotels, which is why urgent reform is needed,” they added.

“Our New Plan for Immigration will fix the broken asylum system so that we spend less time and money on those abusing the system, enabling us to focus on helping those in genuine need.”