Councils win more cash for refugees

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The Independent Online
The Home Office last night bowed to pressure from local councils and announced that it was raising the grants to support asylum seekers.

Michael O'Brien, the immigration minister, announced that the Treasury was increasing the grant to councils for providing food and accommodation for asylum seekers from pounds 140 per head a week to pounds 165 per head a week, raising the cost to the taxpayer to pounds 89.7m.

Some of the London boroughs have complained at the high cost to their ratepayers of supporting the asylum seekers, and have protested that the bill should be picked up by the taxpayer and the Government.

It was estimated that there were 55,000 asylum seekers in this country and the numbers seeking accommodation from London boroughs rose from 2,500 in 1996 to 20,000 last year. The Government pays about 70 per cent of the cost, but the local ratepayers have to pay the rest, and those with entry ports complain they have an unfair burden for a national problem.

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