The Home Office is paying ‘around £8 million’ per day for asylum seekers to be put up in hotels, new figures show.
The department’s annual accounts, published today, reveal the cost is £2mn higher than that cited by Home Secretary Suella Braverman in the Commons on Monday.
The 2022-23 report claimed that the arrival of small boats of migrants across the channel was placing an ‘unsustainable pressure on our asylum system and accommodation services,’ costing taxpayers more than £3bn a year.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made ‘stopping the boats’ one of his top five priorities ahead of a likely general election next year.
Critics have argued the government has failed to grip the issue of unlawful migration, with a controversial £140mn deal to send migrants to East Africa still held up in the courts.
A group of people thought to be migrants crossing the Channel in a small boat traveling from the coast of France and heading in the direction of Dover, Kent. Picture date: August 29, 2023
The Britannia Hotel in Wigan on September 1 2023, which has been used to house migrants
The Conservative UK Government passed the Illegal Migration Act in July, which is designed to give powers to deport asylum seekers arriving via unauthorised routes either back to their home country or to Rwanda.
The deal is still held up, however, with a deportation flight yet to leave the runway.
The Act, according to the Home Office’s annual report, ‘goes further than ever before’ to prevent the arrival of small boats but said ‘legislative changes take time and there is no single silver bullet’.
But the report conceded that ‘in the meantime, we must take action to address the unacceptable costs of housing migrants in hotels which is costing the taxpayer around £8 million a day’.
Labour’s home affairs spokeswoman Yvette Cooper said the bill for hotels was ‘astronomical’ and accused the Tories of failing tackle the issue of unlawful migration.
She said the new figures showed the Tories had ‘busted the Home Office budget’.
‘This report illustrates the staggering costs of the Tories’ asylum chaos, with the taxpayer now spending an astronomical £8 million a day on hotels and the costs still going up and up,’ she said in a statement.
‘That is the price of the Conservatives’ utter failure to get a grip on this issue – now costing over £3 billion a year.
‘Shockingly, the cost of hotel accommodation has gone up by a third since Rishi Sunak promised to end hotel use.
‘The Tories have busted the Home Office budget, they’ve broken the asylum system, and the British people are paying the price.’
Ministers have looked to provide cheaper alternative housing for migrants who are waiting for their asylum application to be processed, with barges, such as the Bibby Stockholm in Dorset, and former military sites converted into accommodation.
Since Sunak entered office, provisional figures suggest at least 31,000 asylum seekers have crossed the Channel, while almost 24,000 have arrived in 2023, Home Office statistics show.
On Sunday, opposition leader Keir Starmer was forced to clarify Labour’s plans to tackle illegal migration.
Starmer denied that under a Labour government Britain would have to take in a quota of migrants as part of his bid to strike a deal with EU
He also revealed that Labour would scrap the Government’s proposal to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their claims processed, as well as ditch Tory efforts to ban Channel migrants from claiming asylum in Britain.
Ministers have looked to provide cheaper alternative housing for migrants who are waiting for their asylum application to be processed, with barges, such as the Bibby Stockholm (pictured on September 19, 2023) in Dorset, and former military sites converted into accommodation
Yvette Cooper added that Labour would end hotel use and stop the perilous migrant crossings by targeting the criminal gangs that are supporting human trafficking.
It comes after she and Starmer used a trip to The Hague in the Netherlands to set out Labour’s plan for tackling irregular migration.
Sir Keir said he would focus on ensuring that an anti-terrorism-style international crackdown could smash the gangs behind the ‘vile’ trade, preventing people leaving in small boats from France in the first place.