Council 'struggling' with asylum seekers in hotels slams 'unfair' government

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The Home Office has booked a hotel, which has not been named, in Hull for families awaiting applications for permanent residency in the UK. Daren Hale, leader of Hull City Council, has described the demands being placed on his city by the national Government as “unfair and excessive”.

Mr Hale said providing refuge for those at risk is placing a huge burden on city services, which are already under pressure due to COVID-19.

Britannia Royal Hotel, which has more than 150 bedrooms, has already housed asylum seekers for more than one year.

Speaking to Hull Live today, Cllr Hale said: “As Hull continues to cope with the huge pressures Covid is placing on our communities and public services, Hull City Council has been told by the Home Office that a second hotel in the city will be used to accommodate asylum seekers awaiting assessment.

“We have no control or influence over this decision and do not support it.

“As a ‘City of Sanctuary’, we have a long and proud history of welcoming and supporting people seeking refuge, but the situation is becoming unsustainable, both for the Council and, crucially, for the individuals concerned.

“On this basis, I have written to the Home Secretary to express our concerns and to ask why these unfair and excessive demands are continually being placed on Hull, whilst many other areas around the country are making no contribution to supporting this national responsibility.

“Hull and our partners need additional direct Government financial assistance to help provide the services that these vulnerable people need, but none has been provided by the Government.”

Cllr Hale, who became council leader last May, has now written to the Home Secretary Priti Patel demanding a review of the Government’s decision to house more asylum seekers while other towns and cities “are making no contribution to this national responsibility”.

But families continue to flee war-torn and dangerous countries, such as Syria and Afghanistan.

Cllr Hale, though, argues it is “not right” decisions are made by central Government on where to house refugees without consulting with local authorities or providing the necessary funding.

He added: “It is unfair for the Government to always rely on the Council’s existing budget, which has been cut year after year since 2010 – with our hard-pressed local council taxpayers and our other local services being put under greater pressure as a result.

“Over the past two years, Hull City Council has made several direct appeals to the Home Office expressing our concerns and frustrations about their approach, which appears to be solely based upon where sufficiently cheap hotels and follow-on dispersal accommodation can be sourced.

“None of the Council’s correspondence has been adequately responded to and, in some cases, no response has been received at all. Hull’s MPs have also been making representation on behalf of the city on these issues.”

Mrs Patel, MP for Witham, Essex, was last month blasted for leaving asylum seekers in “limbo” for an extended period as she ditched the time limit for responding to applications.

The 49-year-old unveiled an alteration to the Nationalities and Borders Bill which allows the Home Office to consider a newly arrived migrant’s asylum claim for longer than the six-month limit it was previously constrained to. 

And Cllr Hale has urged Mrs Patel to make further changes to the approach.

He added: “Hull City Council and the city’s three MPs are calling for the Home Office review their approach to this national crisis as matter of utmost priority.

“As has been done recently with Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC), the Government must ensure that all areas of the country play their part in supporting asylum seekers as they go through the assessment and dispersal process; and Government funding is essential to provide the services and support that they need.”

Express Online has contacted the Home Office for a comment.



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