Treasury earmarks just £2,100 for refugee housing scheme after Priti Patel explains how many will be let in

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Civil servants at Number 11 who spoke to the Home Secretary seem to think that, although thousands of households expressed an interest in housing Ukrainian refugees, Michael Gove’s innovative scheme is unlikely to be very expensive.

Simon Williams ACA, Senior Purser for the Exchequer, admitted he had feared the flagship program to give £350 to families housing Ukrainian refugees would cost tens of millions until Priti Patel explained the process that determines who will actually be allowed into the country.

“When we heard Michael Gove explain his plan, we foolishly thought it was a serious attempt to help people fleeing war and not just a figleaf to stop the UK looking like the most heartless bastards in Europe.

“So of course, we started looking at where we could find surplus cash or perhaps issuing special bonds on the international money markets.

“But then Rishi arranged a meeting with the Home Secretary about what she would do for the poor souls trying desperately to find a safe haven in the UK. I can’t tell you what was said, or how many kittens were strangled during that meeting, but once the terror shakes stopped we realised we could basically fund the thing by a quick whip-round in Whitehall.”

The Home Office denied it was keeping its visa criteria absurdly strict and the application process fiendishly complex so as to render the scheme completely meaningless.

After a 7-hour wait for a NewsThump reporter on a Home Office phone line set up to help refugees, a recorded message told applicants to “journey to the mountains where the crescent moon shadows the ash tree, find the boatman with no oars and answer his riddles three.”