UP to 30,000 hotel rooms across the UK are being requisitioned by the Home Office every day to house asylum seekers waiting for their claims to be processed.
A total of 37,000 asylum seekers are currently in hotel accommodation, at a cost to the UK taxpayer of almost £5m a day, according to a GB News report.
As the Government acknowledges the increasing reliance on hotels is “unsustainable”, the first of around 1,500 asylum seekers are expected to arrive at a former RAF base in North Yorkshire this week.
The move, which has enraged local people in the nearby village of Linton-on-Ouse, is part of a package of measures to help tackle the growing asylum seekers accommodation crisis and reduce the need for costly hotels.
The first 60 asylum seekers will be bused to the base in the next few days.
If the Home Office can make a success of the Linton-on-Ouse facility, it could pave the way for the use of other former Ministry of Defence and government sites for similar accommodation centres in the months ahead.
Home Office response
A Home Office spokesman said: “The unprecedented and unacceptable rise in dangerous small boat crossings continues to put huge pressure on the UK’s broken asylum system.
“As part of the New Plan for Immigration, we are reducing the current almost £5 million daily cost of using hotels to accommodate migrants through the new asylum reception centre at Linton-on-Ouse and by creating a fairer asylum dispersal system.”
The Home Office also said it “will use a phased approach to developing Linton-on-Ouse, gradually increasing the number of asylum seekers accommodated at the site over the coming weeks.”
All of the hotels requisitioned by the Home Office are now closed to the general public, and anyone trying to book a room is referred to the booking agent, or to the Home Office.
The issue of how best to house asylum seekers across the UK is a constant and growing headache for the Home Office.
On 13 April, all local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales became an asylum dispersal area by default.
This will require all local authorities to make more council housing stock and private rented accommodation available in their areas for the asylum seeker dispersal programme.
But the issue of integrating large groups of mainly young men in communities across the country remains controversial after several concerning incidents in recent months.
Thames Valley Police confirmed officers are currently investigating an incident in a park in Windsor in recent days, where a group of school girls were reportedly approached by two young male asylum seekers.
Another concern is the lack of facilities for asylum seekers within the village of Linton-on-Ouse, which has one local shop on the main street, and no other amenities.
Addressing those concerns, the Home Office said: “Linton-on-Ouse is being designed to be as self-sufficient as possible, minimising any impact on local communities, services, and the need to leave the site.
Meanwhile the number of people arriving on small boats continues to grow at a higher rate than last year, which saw 28,526 people cross the Channel.
So far, this year, despite several spells of unfavourable weather of late, almost 10,000 people have paid criminal gangs to take them across the Channel in small boats.