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Government spending £6.8m a day housing asylum seekers in hotels

The figure has risen since early this year and costs could continue to grow, MPs were told.

Flora Thompson
Wednesday 26 October 2022 14:47 BST
The Government is now spending almost £7million a day housing asylum seekers in hotels and the cost could continue to rise, MPs heard (Gareth Fuller/PA)
The Government is now spending almost £7million a day housing asylum seekers in hotels and the cost could continue to rise, MPs heard (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

The Government is spending almost £7 million a day housing asylum seekers in hotels and the cost could continue to rise, MPs heard.

The Commons Home Affairs Committee was told £5.6 million a day was being spent on hotels for people who have arrived in the UK and have submitted a claim, with an additional £1.2 million paid to house Afghan refugees who fled the Taliban takeover while long-term accommodation is sought.

The total £6.8 million is over £2 million more than the Government said it was spending in February (£4.7 million).

Asked by committee chairwoman Dame Diana Johnson if the cost was likely to go up again, Abi Tierney, director general of the passport office and UK visas and immigration, replied: “Yes.”

During the wide-ranging session, MPs also learned:

– The Home Office has only processed 4% of asylum claims by migrants who crossed the Channel last year. Of that, 85% were granted refugee status or another protection status.

– Officials admitted the interception rate made by French police of migrants attempting the journey has fallen.

– Some 12,000 Albanians have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year, of which 10,000 are single, adult men. This is compared to 50 in 2020.

– The number of migrants being held at the Manston Airport short-term holding facility in Kent while they are processed is “outstripping” capacity and some are staying there for as long as a month, compared to the 24 hours intended.

Dan Hobbs, director of asylum, protection and enforcement, said there is a “challenge in processing asylum claims in a timely way at present” and confirmed only a “small proportion” of last year’s arrivals have been granted asylum.

The cost of the UK’s asylum system has topped £2 billion a year, with the highest number of claims for two decades and record delays for people awaiting a decision.

Clandestine Channel threat commander Dan O’Mahoney told the committee in 2021 the interception rate for French police stopping migrants trying to cross the Channel was 50% and this year it has dropped to 42.5%.

He accepted this was a lower percentage but stressed it was a “much, much bigger number”, telling how French authorities had stopped 28,000 migrants crossing the Channel and intercepted and destroyed 1,072 boats so far this year.

“I should put on record my thanks to the French … this is around double what they managed to achieve last year, so that is really, really significant,” Mr O’Mahoney said.

But he added: “It is correct to say that migrants can attempt to cross on more than one occasion and therefore those 28,000 migrants may not be individual, different migrants, so it’s 28,000 attempts.”

In France migrants are not detained and processed after being caught attempting to cross the Channel. Mr O’Mahoney said French laws make it “difficult for French officers to take any action in that way”.

He told the committee that French beach patrols in the north of the country were only “one brick in the wall” of the efforts to curb Channel crossings.

Work by the UK and French authorities have led to 55 serious organised crime gangs behind such crossings being “dismantled” since a joint intelligence cell was set up in France a couple of years ago, he added.

The committee heard Albanians are now the biggest single nationality arriving in the UK by crossing the Channel.

“The rise has been exponential and we think that is, in the main, due to the fact that Albanian criminal gangs have gained a foothold in the north of France and they’ve begun facilitating very large numbers of migrants,” Mr O’Mahoney said.

More than 38,000 people have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in over 900 boats in 2022 to date, compared with 28,526 last year.

In October alone, at least 5,000 have made the journey, according to provisional Government figures, but no crossings were recorded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Monday or Tuesday.

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