The head of the UK’s public spending watchdog said he had seen no evidence so far that the Rwanda plan was good value for money.
Gareth Davies, head of the National Audit Office, announced that his teams will investigate how much the Home Office spends now and in the coming years.
His decision represents an important intervention in the ongoing dispute between representatives and the ministry over the true costs of the Rwanda plan.
On Monday, MPs on the Public Accounts Committee – which scrutinizes whether the government is spending money wisely – clashed with the Home Office’s most senior official over the scale of its spending.
So far, £290m has been delivered to Rwanda, or will be delivered soon, but Home Office Permanent Secretary Sir Matthew Rycroft has refused to say how much will be spent, saying the details are a commercial secret.
This afternoon, the National Audit Office said it will now investigate and present its findings to Parliament.
“I do not believe it is possible to reach a value-for-money conclusion at this stage, given that this relies on the deterrent effect of the scheme,” Davies told MPs in a letter.
Dame Diana Johnson and Dame Meg Hillier, chairs of the Public Accounts Committee for Home Affairs respectively, said in a joint statement that they welcomed the NAO’s intervention because Parliament needed to know the true costs.
The NAO report is expected to be “factual”, meaning it will not judge whether money has been wasted.