Review of aid expenditure on refugee accommodation

The Government spent one third of Britain’s entire aid budget on refugee accommodation (£3.5bn) in 2022.

About the project

Altair was engaged by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact to provide specialist commercial support to a review of the Home Office expenditure on accommodation for Asylum seekers and Refugees.

Several other scrutiny bodies have examined the Home Office’s support for asylum seekers and refugees over the past five years, including the Public Accounts Committee, the Home Affairs Committee, the National Audit Office and the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration. Value for money concerns emerge as a consistent theme, along with urgent calls for the Home Office to resolve the accommodation crisis. We did not find evidence in our review that the Home Office had improved its contract management practices in response to earlier recommendations. In March 2023, the Home Office provided a list of improvements they are currently undertaking, including remedying the under-resourcing of the commercial contract management team, clarifying roles between commercial and service delivery teams, and strengthening commercial oversight. However, ICAI did not see evidence to verify this information or assess how these improvements are being implemented.


The project reported to Parliament resulting in six recommendations for improvement all being accepted, and now being implemented to improve the quality of aid spending on in-donor refugee costs and minimise the resulting disruption to UK aid.

  • Introduce a cap on the proportion of the aid budget that can be spent on in-donor refugee costs to avoid.
  • Revisit its methodology for reporting in-donor refugee costs.
  • Home Office should strengthen its strategic and commercial management of the asylum accommodation and support contracts, to drive greater value for money.
  • Resourcing activities by community-led organisations and charities.
  • ODA-funded in-donor refugee support is more informed by humanitarian standards.
  • Strengthen its learning.

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