UK spending £8m a day on hotels for asylum seekers

Migrants outside a hotel in Heathrow last October
Migrants outside a hotel in Heathrow last October - Georgie Gillard

The Home Office is now spending £8 million a day on hotels for asylum seekers, it has emerged – up by a third on the previous year amid the small boats crisis.

Migrants are being housed in around 400 hotels across the UK while their claims are processed, including four-star country estates and tourist hotels in city centres.

Ministers are trying to reduce the amount of accommodation being used, including through the use of the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset.

Last October, the home affairs committee was told that £5.6 million a day was being spent on hotels for people who have arrived in the UK and submitted an asylum claim. In April, a government spokesman said the use of hotels was costing British taxpayers £6 million a day.

The Home Office’s annual accounts, published on Tuesday, state: “The Illegal Migration Act will ensure anyone arriving illegally can be detained and swiftly removed, so that people know they cannot skip the queue by coming here illegally.

“This goes further than ever before to do what is necessary to fix the issue, but legislative changes take time and there is no single silver bullet.

“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.”

The figure is the equivalent to more than £3 billion a year, and publication of the report sparked an immediate cross-party backlash.

A government source said: “This is why we’ve got to get migrants out of hotels and stop the boats. We’re confident our Rwanda scheme, which is awaiting a judgment from the Supreme Court, will break the people smugglers’ business model.”

David Jones, a former Cabinet minister and the deputy chairman of the European Research Group of Tory MPs, said: “Of course, this simply underlines the need to stop the boats.

“In order to do so, we need to implement the Rwanda scheme. And in order to do that, it is probably the case that we need to disapply of the European Convention on Human Rights in these specific circumstances.”

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said the 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”.

Ms Cooper added: “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.”

A pledge to stop the boats is one of the five priorities set out by Mr Sunak at the start of the year. After delays last month to the Bibby Stockholm scheme, he said the use of hotels to house migrants was “completely wrong” and created an “unfair” situation.

The Government says housing asylum seekers in locations such as the Bibby Stockholm barge will help cut the hotel bill
The Government says housing asylum seekers in locations such as the Bibby Stockholm barge will help cut the hotel bill - Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images Europe

He vowed to end the “farce of illegal migrants being put up in hotels by the taxpayer” and to “leave no stone unturned” in his mission to prevent further crossings.

However, the Rwanda scheme, which would see those who cross the Channel deported and their claims processed in that country, has been hit by a series of legal challenges, leading to the grounding of the first planned flight just hours before take-off.

It remains in limbo after the policy was blocked by the Court of Appeal in June, although Mr Sunak is said to be “positive” about the prospects of it being overturned in a forthcoming Supreme Court challenge.