Migrants being housed in almost 400 hotels across UK
Almost 400 hotels are currently being used to house asylum seekers, it has been revealed.
The number of migrants being housed in private is now above the 50,000 mark, a 20-fold increase in less than three years.
Earlier this month, analysis by The Telegraph found that 42 of the 48 English counties now have hotels accommodating asylum seekers.
The government has never publicly confirmed the total number of hotels involved, but a government source has now told BBC News it is using 395 to accommodate more than 51,000 asylum seekers, at a cost of more than £6m a day.
Of those hotels, 363 are in England, 20 in Northern Ireland, 10 in Scotland and two in Wales.
Because of a lack of other suitable accommodation, asylum seekers are housed in hotels, which are often taken over by the government with only a few days' notice.
Small boat arrivals, accounting for about 45 per cent of asylum applications in 2022, are at record levels and the backlog of asylum cases now amounts to about 166,000 people.
Fredricka Reynolds, a florist, lost her regular work for a hotel in Kegworth, Leicestershire, when asylum seekers moved in last month.
She said: "They rang me on the Thursday, before the asylum seekers came on the Monday and cancelled all my weddings for the foreseeable [future].
"I understand they need housing, but then also why Kegworth? Why the main business in Kegworth that brings many people to the village, a lot of money into the village? It's all gone now.”
Simpay Khalifa, a 25-year-old Sundanese man who arrived by a small boat from France in November, said there was “nothing to do” at the hotel in Kegworth.
He added: "Some people volunteer and do some charity work, but there is nothing to do here. Nothing. We stay the whole day at the room doing nothing."
Hotel owners are approached to hand over their properties to outsourced companies, which run the business on behalf of the Home Office.
The BBC used Freedom of Information requests to ask all UK councils how many hotels were being used for asylum seekers and how many individuals were living in them.
Of the 398 councils approached, 320 responded. The majority said there were no hotels or asylum seekers in their area, or referred the BBC to the Home Office.
A Home Office spokesperson said the government was "committed to making every effort to reduce hotel use and limit the burden on the taxpayer".