The immigration minister has declared “Hotel Britain” must end in a bid to disincentivise “asylum shopping”, with migrants set to be housed in “simple, functional” spaces as opposed to “luxury” rooms.
Robert Jenrick has insisted a move towards more basic accommodation is necessary to remove a “pull factor” for those making their way to the UK in small boats, as he insisted Britain will be “compassionate but not naive”.
He claimed the country’s “generosity” towards refugees is being “abused” by people “skipping the queue”, putting a strain on the immigration system.
It comes as the number of migrants who have crossed the Channel into the UK is thought to have surpassed 40,000, with dozens arriving on Saturday.
The provisional total of arrivals for 2022 had been 39,913 ahead of the weekend, with the further crossings likely to set a new milestone.
In an article for The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Jenrick said a “chronic shortage of acceptable accommodation” for “record numbers” of migrants has forced the Government to procure expensive and often unsuitable hotels, burdening the taxpayer with an “unacceptable” cost.
“Human decency has to be accompanied by hard-headed common sense: illegal immigrants are not entitled to luxury hotels,” he said.
“Conditions in the UK are almost always better than in neighbouring countries, which helps explain why the UK is a destination of choice for economic migrants on the continent ‘asylum shopping’.
“‘Hotel Britain’ must end, and be replaced with simple, functional accommodation that does not create an additional pull factor.”
Alternatives to hotel rooms could include disused student accommodation, defunct holiday parks and even budget cruise ships, according to the newspaper.
The small boats crisis has once again dominated headlines in recent weeks, with ministers under fire for overcrowding chaos at the Manston holding centre in Kent.
At one point as many as 4,000 people were being detained at the site, which is designed to hold just 1,600. This number later dropped to within capacity.
It has since emerged that migrants at the facility will be vaccinated against diphtheria due to concerns over a rise in cases of the highly contagious disease.
Setting out the Government’s plans to get a handle on the small boats crisis, Mr Jenrick said a close relationship with the French would be vital to deterring those “attempting to cheat the process”.
“With greater co-ordination between our respective security and law enforcement agencies, we can dismantle the evil criminal gangs masterminding these crossings and bring greater order both to our shores and to northern France,” he said.
The Government has said in recent days that a fresh agreement with France, understood to be worth about £80 million, is in its final stages.
This is expected to allow Border Force officers to observe French operations co-ordinating beach searches for boats being launched into the Channel and hunts for people trafficking gangs.
The immigration minister also vowed to look at expanding the controversial Rwanda deportation scheme, introduced by former home secretary Priti Patel.
Despite the fact the move to deport migrants thousands of miles away to east Africa has yet to see a single flight depart, Mr Jenrick said similar agreements will be explored with other countries, as he insisted those travelling from “safe” nations must not view small boats as “a path to a life here”.
Declaring the UK will be “compassionate, but not naive”, the Home Office minister warned of the need to ensure Britain’s modern slavery laws are not “exploited” by illegitimate claimants.
Meanwhile, he said the Government intends to “bust the backlog of asylum claims” by “cutting red tape” and rolling out a pilot in Leeds that “doubled” the productivity of officials.
He pointed to efforts to expedite the removal of people with “no right to be here” by agreeing “tailored bilateral returns agreements” with partners such as Albania, and stressed the need to work closely with “all aspects of our security services”.
“The British public rightly demand that their Government immediately grips the illegal immigration crisis with actions and not words – and that is what the Home Secretary and I are determined to deliver,” he said.
Border Force officials could be seen bringing groups of people into shore at Dover, Kent, over Saturday, marking the first arrivals since October 31, following a spell of bad weather.
Dozens were pictured outside processing centres, among them a young child wrapped in a blanket.
The Government is currently spending £6.8 million a day putting up migrants in hotels – at an average cost of £150 per person per night.