Home Office admits cost of housing asylum seekers in hotels almost four times figure given to MPs

Department forced to issue correction over almost £5m a day spent on hotels

May Bulman
Social Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 03 February 2022 14:33 GMT
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The Home Office said the total daily cost was £4.7m - £1.2m to accommodate people resettled from Afghanistan and another £3.5m for asylum seekers
The Home Office said the total daily cost was £4.7m - £1.2m to accommodate people resettled from Afghanistan and another £3.5m for asylum seekers (Getty)

The cost of housing asylum seekers and Afghan refugees in hotels is almost £5m a day – nearly four times the figure MPs were given by government officials this week, it has emerged.

The Home Office was forced to issue a correction after one of the department’s senior officials told the Home Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday that the daily cost of hotel accommodation was £1.2m.

In fact, the figure cited by second permanent secretary Tricia Hayes referred only to individuals who have been evacuated from Afghanistan.

On Thursday, the Home Office admitted the total daily cost was in fact £4.7m.

It is understood that the mistake was made due to a drafting error and that the official had since clarified with the Home Affairs Select Committee that this figure was a sub-set of the total cost currently incurred by the Home Office in procuring hotel accommodation.

The newly revealed figure means that the department is spending £127 on hotels per person each day, and a total of more than £1.7bn each year.

Around 25,000 asylum seekers are currently being held in hotels across the UK, as well as 12,000 Afghan nationals who were evacuated to Britain following the Taliban takeover in August 2021.

The number of asylum seekers placed in hotels has racked up in the past two years as the pandemic has led to mounting delays in the asylum system and the government has failed to secure enough dispersal housing across the country.

A report by the Refugee Council last May revealed that asylum seekers in hotels were being left without adequate shoes, clothing, food and healthcare, in what was condemned as “dehumanising” treatment.

Meanwhile, following Operation Pitting, the mass evacuation of Kabul in August, the Home Office placed thousands of Afghans in hotels, and has since only been able to find homes for about 4,000.

It emerged last September that thousands would be held in hotels for an indefinite period, with local councils saying they have been left “in the dark” about how they can help. The lack of clarity is said to be causing “unnecessary worrying and anxiety” to Afghans.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The use of hotels is unacceptable. It is a short-term solution to the global migration crisis and we are working hard to find appropriate dispersed accommodation for migrants, asylum seekers and Afghan refugees as soon as possible. We would urge local authorities to do all they can to help house people permanently.”

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