How many asylum seekers are in Stoke-on-Trent right now as city remains hotspot

Stoke-on-Trent is housing 1,277 asylum seekers - proportionately the 10th highest number in the country. The Home Office figures show that at the end of December, there were 924 asylum seekers in dispersed accommodation in Stoke-on-Trent, with a further 353 in hotels.

Stoke-on-Trent's total equates to 49 asylum seeker per 10,000 residents, with only nine local authorities in the country having a higher ratio. But the number is down slightly from the 1,329 who were staying in hotels or dispersed accommodation in the city at the end of September.

The government has now finally passed legislation declaring Rwanda to be a 'safe country', which will allow asylum seekers to be sent there, with the first flight expected to leave in July. The government says the scheme will deter people from crossing the English Channel in small boats.

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While around 52,000 asylum seekers could potentially be sent to Rwanda, the facility there will only be able to accommodate a few hundred a year. The December figures show that more than 111,000 asylum seekers were receiving support across the country.

For years Stoke-on-Trent has been accommodating proportionately more asylum seekers than most other parts of the country, with local politicians complaining that the city was being asked to do more than its 'fair share'. In 2022 the government announced a reform of the dispersal scheme to ensure a fairer distribution of asylum seekers across the country.

But the latest figures show that 204 out of 361 council areas were still accommodating fewer than 10 asylum seekers, with 97, including Stafford and South Staffordshire, accommodating none at all. There were three asylum seekers in Lichfield, three in the Staffordshire Moorlands, 13 in Newcastle-under-Lyme, 101 in East Staffordshire, 199 in Tamworth and 201 in Cannock Chase.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak says the Rwanda scheme will 'deter vulnerable migrants from making perilous crossings', while Labour have branded it an 'extortionately expensive gimmick'.

Stoke-on-Trent South's Conservative MP Jack Brereton believes the Rwanda bill will help reduce the number of asylum seekers needing accommodation.

He said: "I know people want to see action to properly deter those attempting to come here illegally and reduce pressure on accommodating asylum seekers, which is why this landmark moment in delivering the Rwanda policy is so important. Despite repeated attempts by opposition parties and the Lords to prevent these efforts the bill has now passed.

"The government has been already working on recruiting specialists teams, chartering flights and expanding detention facilities, alongside a number of other measures. We will now robustly face off any further attempts to thwart this policy and ensure we can deliver proper deterrence, with flights taking off within weeks."

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