“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.”
The first 50 hotels across the UK will stop housing asylum seekers by the end of January, as a result of a more than 20% drop in small boat crossings compared to last year, the Immigration Minister has confirmed.
The Home Office has already notified local authorities, MPs and the accommodation providers, informing them that the first 50 hotels temporarily accommodating asylum seekers will be exited as part of the move to return hotels to their proper use by communities.
Initial efforts will focus on hotels that can be exited quickly. This announcement will help to relieve pressures on local services in the areas where exits are taking place, and provide a boost to the local economy.
These hotels will be gradually handed back to hoteliers by the end of January 2024, with the first of these expected to be exited in the coming days.
Asylum seekers currently accommodated in these hotels will be moving to other parts of the UK’s asylum estate, including the Bibby Stockholm barge.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick 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.
The move comes amid a decrease in small boat crossings, which are down by more than 20% compared to this point in 2022.
This move has been achieved due to the government’s wider efforts to tackle illegal migration, including our ongoing work with our international partners such as our agreement with the French government, and strengthened partnerships with Turkey and Italy to tackle organised immigration crime.
On top of this, the government is going even further through our Illegal Migration Act which will mean that people arriving in the UK illegally are detained and promptly removed to their country of origin or a safe third country.
Capacity has also been increased by making better use of sites in the current asylum estate, by optimising room sharing and alternative accommodation sites, such as the former military base at Wethersfield and the Bibby Stockholm barge, which offer better value for the taxpayer and are more manageable for communities.
The Home Office says it will work closely with accommodation providers and local authorities to manage the exit process in a way which limits the impact on partners and service users alike.
Yesterday’s announcement on exiting hotels is just one part of the government’s wider efforts to tackle illegal migration.
Specifically, since the signing of the Joint Communiqué with the government of Albania in December 2022, more than 4,100 Albanian nationals with no right to be in the UK have been returned. This includes some people who were returned 48 hours after illegally arriving by small boat.
There has also been a clamp down on rogue employers, with 4,721 illegal working visits carried out between the start of January and the end of September 2023. A shake up of civil penalties in August also means employers of illegal workers are set to face fines of up to £60,000.