The number of hotels being used to house migrants has doubled to almost 400 in a five-month period, according to figures released by the BBC. The asylum seekers are being housed in hotels at airports and golf courses, as well as country homes, with some hotels located in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. In England alone, there are 363 locations. The number of those being housed is now 51,000, with officials on track to clear the backlog for all those arriving in the UK before 2020. The cost to taxpayers is around £6m ($8.3m) per day.
The UK Home Office has stated that it aims to reduce hotel use, while Robert Jenrick, the UK Housing Secretary, has accused some countries of not taking their fair share of asylum seekers entering their borders. “There are fewer hotels in Scotland than there are in Kensington. There are more hotels in Earl’s Court than there are in Labour Wales,” he remarked. The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has suggested that migrant accommodation should also be provided in more unusual venues, including theme parks and cruise ships.
Concerns have been raised over the use of hotels to host asylum seekers, including about the high cost of swabbing and testing individuals for Covid-19. Commentators also point out that the widespread use of hotels is continuing despite the UK seeking to deport asylum seekers to countries in which they have previously been housed. The government had previously pledged to reduce the numbers being housed in hotels by providing long-term accommodation. However, high demand for housing and the closure of temporary lodgings during the pandemic have made such a move difficult.
A number of hotels have refused to be used as asylum-seeker accommodation. Unison, a UK union, called for the government and the hotels to provide safe and secure temporary accommodation for asylum seekers. The Refugee Council has stated that people in this position are being treated “less like human beings than as problems to be warehoused”. Amnesty International has claimed that the UK government’s treatment of asylum seekers in the country is in breach of International Human Rights law.