The Home Office has announced that it is working to stop housing asylum seekers in hotels, with the first 50 being cleared by January. This announcement comes following a reported 20% reduction in the number of small boat crossings in comparison to 2022.
According to the Home Office, local authorities, MPs, and accommodation providers have been notified of this decision, with the first hotels to be exited being ones that can be departed quickly. This will help to relieve pressure on local services, as well as giving the local economy a boost. The first hotel is predicted to be exited within the coming days.
The decision has been made with the reduction in small boat crossings, with the Home Office announcing that its work to tackle illegal migration, whilst also reducing organised crime in collaboration with partner nations such as France, Turkey, and Italy. Further measures that have been announced by the government include the strengthening of the Illegal Migration Act that will see people arriving illegally detained and either removed to their nation of origin or a safe third-party country.
Robert Jenrick, Immigration Minister, said:
“Taxpayers cannot be expected to foot the eye-watering bill for the use of hotels to accommodate individuals making illegal, dangerous and wholly unnecessary small boat crossings.
“Our strategy to stop the boats is making progress. With small boat arrivals down more than 20% compared with last year, we can now start to restore these hotels to their rightful use for local communities.
“We remain absolutely determined, through the implementation of the Illegal Migration Act and our Rwanda partnership, to dismantle the smuggling gangs’ business models and stop the boats entirely.”
As part of the announcement, the Home Office confirmed that asylum seekers who were being housed within hotels will be moved to other facilities that are part of the asylum estate, with this including the Bibby Stockholm barge.
In response to the Immigration Minister’s announcement, Chair of the Local Government Association Cllr Shaun Davies said:
“Councils have a proud history of supporting humanitarian efforts and continue to work hard to protect and support refugees and help deliver a wide range of government asylum and resettlement schemes. Councils share the government’s ambitions to end hotel use for asylum seekers.
“Hotel closures have a direct impact on councils and local government wants to play an active role in working with government on the decisions on which hotels to close. We also need advance engagement on what other alternatives, including large sites, will be opened up both for those leaving hotels and for ongoing new arrivals.
“Combined pressures from these many schemes are growing on councils and there continues to be an issue across the refugee and asylum system. We need a joined-up approach across central and local government to the cumulative pressures on local services from all asylum and resettlement programmes. This needs to include urgent solutions to our pressing housing needs in the short and the long term across all the schemes that welcome new arrivals to the UK.
“Councils are also becoming increasingly concerned over the numbers of asylum seekers presenting as homeless which is likely to dramatically increase when Home Office accommodation is withdrawn as a result of the current clearance of the asylum backlog. Given increased demand and the acute shortage of housing available across the country, it will make it extremely challenging for those leaving accommodation to find affordable, long-term accommodation and there needs to be a joint and funded approach nationally, regionally, and locally to manage the move on from asylum accommodation and avoid risks of destitution and street homelessness throughout the winter.”
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