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Government spent £8m a day on hotels for asylum seekers despite Sunak’s pledge to end it

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The government’s plan to stop housing asylum seekers in hotels has been delayed by a lack of suitable accommodation, according to one of the contractors responsible for the scheme. Serco, a private company that provides housing and support services to about 25,000 asylum seekers in the UK, said it did not expect “significant” progress on moving migrants out of hotels this year.

According to i News, the company’s chief executive, Mark Irwin, told investors in August that the property market was making it difficult to find enough dispersed housing in the regions where asylum seekers are allocated.

He said the company was working with the Home Office to address the issue, but admitted that the change in the mix of accommodation would not be substantial.

The revelation undermines Rishi Sunak’s pledge in January to end the “appalling situation where taxpayers are paying to keep illegal migrants in hotels” as part of his landmark migration speech.

The prime minister said he wanted to create a “firm but fair” system that would deter people from making dangerous journeys across the Channel and crack down on criminal gangs that exploit them.

He also announced a series of measures to speed up asylum decisions, increase deportations and restrict access to public services for those with no right to remain. However, the latest figures show that the costs of housing asylum seekers in hotels have continued to rise, reaching £8m a day in September, up from £5.6m a day the previous year.

The Home Office said it was spending £8m a day on hotel accommodation for asylum seekers (Photo: Finnbarr Webster/Getty) The Home Office said it was spending more than £2.9bn a year on asylum support, which includes accommodation, subsistence payments and healthcare.

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It said it was working to reduce its reliance on hotels and increase the use of dispersed accommodation, which is cheaper and more suitable for longer-term stays. It also said it was working with other countries to return those who have no right to be in the UK, including thousands of Albanians who have claimed asylum under false pretences.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are fixing our broken asylum system to make it firm and fair. We will seek to stop abuse of the system while ensuring it is compassionate towards those who need our help, welcoming people through safe and legal routes.

“We have been clear that we will stop using hotels as soon as possible and are working at pace with local authorities and other partners to secure further suitable accommodation.” However, critics have accused the government of failing to deliver on its promises and creating a humanitarian crisis for vulnerable people.

Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, a charity that campaigns for the rights of migrants, said: “Rishi Sunak’s pledge to end migrant hotels was always a fantasy. There is no magic wand that can make thousands of people disappear.

“The reality is that his government has created a chaotic and cruel system that traps people in limbo for years, denies them basic rights and dignity, and exposes them to exploitation and abuse. Instead of wasting billions on ineffective and inhumane policies, the government should invest in a fair and efficient asylum process that respects human rights and international law.”

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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