As record numbers of migrants cross the channel, Priti Patel has admitted that some hotels have been block booked until January 2022 – despite a pledge to end the practice. The Home Secretary confirmed that the Home Office is expecting to spend a minimum of £40m and a maximum of £70m on hotels for migrants in the current financial year.
A record number of nearly 1,000 migrants reached Britain in small boats in just two days last week, resulting in 2021’s total soaring to more than 10,500 compared with 8,417 arrivals throughout the whole of 2020.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “Four star hotels for asylum seekers, including those crossing the Channel illegally, is a five-star absurdity.
“Meanwhile, the poor taxpayer goes on paying through the nose for this as well as the ballooning costs of our overwhelmed and abused asylum system, as our government repeatedly fails to deal with the problem.”
In contrast, a government source claimed that Ms Patel “hates using hotels” – something she has made “very clear” to the relevant people.
The source added: “Priti hates using hotels. She’s made that very clear to officials. That’s why her Nationality and Borders Bill sets out her plans to end our reliance on hotels by using purpose-built reception centres which can provide simple but safe accommodation for children.”
According to the most recent official figures, roughly 8,700 migrants were placed in almost 90 different hotels across the UK in February – a figure far higher than the 1,200 in March last year.
After the Home Office and its contractors Serco, Mears and Clearsprings put a halt to the movement of asylum seekers from existing properties because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that this at least partly contributed to the surge in the use of hotels.
There has been a three-fold increase of migrants crossing the Channel over the last year and the government has a legal responsibility to house them – regardless of the fact that 80 percent end up having their asylum claims declined.
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Kent County Council has claimed to be unable to take any more unaccompanied children safely as it has now passed its statutory maximum.
It is estimated that children make up about 10 percent of all migrant arrivals to the UK.