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Government Unveils Ultimatum for Migrants: Accept Bibby Stockholm Bed or Risk Benefits Cutoff

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In a controversial move, the UK Home Office has instructed caseworkers to inform asylum seekers that they have one week to accept accommodation on the Bibby Stockholm, a vessel moored in Portland, Dorset, or face the termination of their benefits. This decision has sparked concerns and criticism from various quarters, including local councils and immigration advocates.

According to a report from Express, Home Office guidance, revealed on Wednesday, mandates caseworkers to take steps to cancel support for asylum seekers who refuse to board the Bibby Stockholm. This cancellation includes access to cash and free accommodation, leaving individuals without a safety net.

The directive further states that those declining to vacate their current hotel accommodations will be treated as trespassers, raising questions about the treatment of vulnerable individuals seeking refuge.

Presently, approximately 50 Channel migrants are residing on the Bibby Stockholm, with expectations of more arrivals in the coming week. Local councils are expressing apprehension about a potential surge in homeless migrants, as the government initiates the cancellation of hotel contracts, costing taxpayers a staggering £8 million daily.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has cautioned that local authorities might be compelled to house migrants in the very hotels barred by the government from hosting asylum seekers. The dilemma arises as the government aims to relocate migrants to alternative sites, including former RAF bases like RAF Wethersfield in Essex and RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

Guidance to Home Office staff emphasizes that if a supported person declines the offer of accommodation on the vessel within five working days, their support will be discontinued, marking a breach of support conditions. This termination encompasses access to Home Office accommodation and subsistence support.

A Home Office source defended the decision, stating, “We’re getting migrants out of hotels and onto the barge, which is perfectly suitable accommodation. If they don’t want to go on, then their support will be stopped – it’s as simple as that. Like it or lump it.”

The Bibby Stockholm beds will remain open for five days after the individual is ordered to leave a hotel room, providing a limited window for appeal with the requirement of professional evidence of exceptional circumstances.

Government sources attribute the ability to cancel hotel contracts to a reported 30 percent decrease in Channel crossings, with 26,553 asylum seekers crossing this year compared to almost 38,000 the previous year.

Shaun Davies, chairman of the LGA, expressed concern about the strain on local councils, stating, “We’ve got a housing shortage, we’ve got a huge demand on temporary accommodation, and we’ve got councils in financial strain.” He questioned where local governments were expected to house refugees once they became their responsibility.

In response to these concerns, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick reassured local authorities that the government would “limit the impact on local communities.” However, as the situation unfolds, the balance between central government policies and the practical challenges faced by local councils remains a point of contention and concern.

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

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