British taxpayers pay for failed asylum seekers to set up ostrich farm in Iran
By JAMES SLACK
Last updated at 08:13am on 17th December 2007
Failed asylum seekers have been handed 36million to open businesses, including a beauty salon, a vineyard and even an ostrich farm, back in their homelands.
More than 23,000 have taken advantage of generous handouts worth up to 4,000 each.
The revelation reignited a row over Labour's controversial policy of “bribing” bogus refugees to leave the country.
Critics said the Government had created a climate where a false claimant could not lose.
They also warned it could encourage more people to head to Britain to lodge a claim.
Details emerged for the first time of how the failed asylum seekers – who could have been forcibly deported – are spending their support package.
One man, a 35-year-old Iranian, opened an ostrich farm after spending four years in the UK.
The vineyard, near Tirana, was opened by an Albanian man who produces organic grapes and raki, a local spirit.
The beauty salon in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare was opened by a woman who went home last year after six years in Britain.
Other businesses that have benefited include a fishing firm in Angola, a ferry in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a dress shop in Sudan, a car dealership in Kenya, a laundry in Afghanistan, a shoe shop in China, a hotel in Nepal, a garment factory in Sri Lanka, an internet cafe in Ecuador and a market stall in Jamaica.
The payouts are worth up to 1,000 in cash at the airport, followed by 3,000 in support to open a business.
Other perks available, provided the 4,000 is not exceeded, include private schooling for the failed asylum seeker's children.
The Home Office pays around twothirds of the bill, with the remainder coming from the EU – itself funded by the taxpayer.
Shadow home secretary David Davis said: “The price of the Government's failure to secure our borders is all too clear.
“Given their inability to deport illegal immigrants, they have had to resort to bribing them – with the taxpayer picking up the bill.”
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said failed asylum seekers were being given a “no loss” option.
He added: “Either they succeed with their claim and are given a meal ticket for life, or they fail and return home much the wealthier. The sum of 4,000 is a fortune in most source countries.”
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: “Giving failed asylum seekers business grants smacks of rewarding criminality and will act as a honey trap for even more illegal migrants”.
The Voluntary Assisted Return Programme has cost 36million since its launch in 1999. The budget for next year is 22million.
The Home Office says the policy is cheaper than forcibly deporting failed refugees – a process which costs 11,000 each.
But opponents say it is evidence of desperation in the Government's attempt to clear a growing backlog.
Throughout 2006, officials managed to deport only 18,280 failed asylum seekers, while 20,700 were added to the list awaiting deportation.
The Treasury has instructed the Home Office to significantly increase the number of bogus refugees dealt with each year.
Sex slaves smuggled into Britain are to share millions in compensation for their 'pain and trauma'.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority has agreed to hand over 140,000 to the first four cases to come before it.
The women had suffered a “sustained period of sexual abuse” after being trafficked into the UK by a syndicate of British criminals.
A further 10,000 are estimated to be eligible under a new interpretation of guidelines by the CICA, a Government agency.
Of the first four, one girl was brought into the UK five years ago at the age of 13.
Another was trafficked in 2003 when she was 16.
The decision will re-open controversy over the way victims of sex trafficking should be treated.
Ministers recognise the danger that offering them help – including compensation – could encourage illegal immigration.