The petition of residents of the constituency of Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove and Talke,
Declares that Serco and the Home Office end the use of hotels in Stoke-on-Trent for asylum seekers and illegal economic migrants, notes that Stoke-on-Trent has already taken over 800 people as part of the Asylum Dispersal Scheme and further that Stoke-on-Trent has therefore done its bit in housing asylum seekers and illegal economic migrants.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge to the Government to ensure that no more hotels in Stoke-on-Trent are used as part of the UK asylum and immigration system, and that those currently in use are phased out over the next six months.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Jonathan Gullis, Official Report, 13 December 2022; Vol. 724, c. 1084.]
Observations from the Minister for Immigration (Robert Jenrick):
The Government have a statutory obligation to provide destitute asylum seekers with accommodation and other support while their application for asylum is being considered under the Immigration Act. The increase in dangerous small boat crossings has caused an unprecedented strain on the asylum system. This has necessitated our use of hotels across the UK, as a contingency, including in Stoke-on-Trent.
Use of hotels for accommodation has implications for host communities, respective councils and local public services. The Government are committed to working co-operatively with relevant partners across local communities and the public and private sectors to ensure hotel accommodation is managed well with limited impact on services.
As the Prime Minister outlined in his recent speech on migration, the accommodation portfolio within the Home Office is under significant pressure. As part of this commitment on migration, we are working tirelessly to end the use of hotels and find additional dispersal accommodation across the UK, to provide medium-term accommodation to asylum seekers while their claims are decided. In this way we plan to significantly reduce our reliance on contingency asylum accommodation. But in the meantime, we must take urgent steps to provide accommodation in line with our obligations.
The record number of people that have crossed the Channel in small boats in recent years has placed the Home Office’s asylum support infrastructure and accommodation services under immense pressure.
Under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, the Home Office has a statutory obligation to provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with accommodation and support while their claim is under consideration. Eligible asylum seekers are ordinarily placed in housing accommodation; however, the unprecedented number of small boat arrivals has forced the Home Office to consider alternative accommodation options to ensure that we meet our statutory obligations, which has resulted in the temporary use of hotels across the UK, including in Stoke-on-Trent.
Placing asylum seekers in hotels is burdensome on local communities, expensive for the taxpayer and does not meet the needs of asylum seekers as we would like. The Home Office is working tirelessly, alongside other Government Departments, to reduce the Government’s dependency on hotels for contingency accommodation through a package of long-term and short-term measures.
The enduring solution to this challenge is to stop the illegal, dangerous and unnecessary small boat crossings that are overwhelming our asylum system, and to that end the Prime Minister announced a package of robust new measures on 13 December 2022 to crack down on illegal immigration. Meanwhile we are taking a range of steps to reduce our dependency on hotels to support those already in the asylum system, including by tackling the asylum legacy caseload so that people can receive a decision and exit the system, either by returning to their home country or by granting them asylum so they can begin to make a contribution to the UK.
The Home Office maintains regular dialogue with key stakeholders in Stoke-on-Trent, and remains committed to working with local partners to mitigate the impact of hotel accommodation on local communities as much as possible.