Number of asylum seekers ‘trapped’ in unsuitable hotels almost trebled in a year, report finds

The number of asylum seekers “languishing” in hotels almost trebled in a year, according to a report.

There were 26,380 migrants living in this type of temporary accommodation at the end of 2021 – compared to 9,421 at the start of the year, Home Office data obtained by the Refugee Council showed.

The responses to freedom of information requests revealed that, as of December, more than 200 hotels were in use and around 10% (about 2,500) of those staying in them were children.

Nearly 3,000 people had been “trapped in unsuitable hotel accommodation” for more than six months and 378 had been there for a year, the charity said.

It warned some migrants were experiencing depression and feeling suicidal while “languishing” in hotels as they awaited a decision on their asylum claim as it highlighted cases of people having “inadequate access to clothing, appropriate footwear and other basic essentials such as paracetamol, mobile phones and the internet”.

The charity’s chief executive Enver Solomon (pictured) said: “We are deeply disappointed that despite Government promises to move people out of hotels, the numbers of men, women and children trapped in unsuitable hotel accommodation has trebled in a year alone.

“The huge increase in the number of families and vulnerable children stuck between the four walls of a hotel room, from morning till night, is the brutal reality of a broken system.

“Far from the glitzy hotels people may imagine, these are not places anyone would want to stay in for long periods; they are cramped and unsafe.

“Hotel stays are days, weeks, months, and in some cases a year, stuck in limbo, cut off from society, unable to find work with children often missing out of vital education.

“The impact of this on people who have already endured extreme suffering is huge, damaging their mental health, robbing children of their childhood and leaving people unable to progress with their lives in any meaningful way, or participate in the lives of their communities.

“The Government must ensure swift decisions are made so that those who have protection needs can stay in this country as a refugee, and those who do not can be supported to safely return to the country from which they came.”

In February, it emerged the Government was spending £4.7 million a day housing asylum seekers in hotels.

The Home Office said: “The asylum accommodation system is under enormous pressure due to an increase in dangerous small boat crossings, which is why our New Plan for Immigration targets people smugglers and will speed up the removal of those with no right to be here.

“The new fairer asylum dispersal model will also reduce the use of hotels which is costing taxpayers nearly £5 million a day.

“Asylum seekers have access to free health and social care services from point of arrival in the UK – just like British citizens and other permanent residents. To suggest otherwise is wrong.”

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