50 hotels to stop housing migrants by January, minister announces

Robert Jenrick made a statement in the Commons on reducing the number of hotels housing asylum seekers (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)
Robert Jenrick made a statement in the Commons on reducing the number of hotels housing asylum seekers (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

The number of hotels used to house migrants will be cut by 50 over the next three months, the immigration minister has announced.

Robert Jenrick told MPs the process of “exiting” the first tranche of accommodation would begin in the coming days.

In a statement to the Commons, he said the plans were possible because of “the progress we’ve made to stop the boats.”

But his opposite number Stephen Kinnock said the announcement demonstrated the Government’s “utter lack of ambition” as the number amounts to a “paltry” 12% of total usage.

Robert Jenrick
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick told MPs the process of “exiting” some hotel accommodation would begin in the coming days (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Jenrick said on Tuesday: “I can inform the House that today the Home Office wrote to local authorities and MPs to inform them that we will now be exiting the first asylum hotels, hotels in all four nations of the UK.

“The first 50 of these exits will begin in the coming days and will be complete by the end of January with more tranches to follow shortly but we will not stop there.

“We will continue to deliver on our strategy to stop the boats and we will be able to exit more hotels. And as we exit these hotels, we are putting in place dedicated resource to facilitate the orderly and effective management of this process and limit the impact on local communities.”

In March, the Government introduced plans to house asylum seekers on disused military bases and barges in a bid to cut spending on hotels.

That month, around 47,500 people were using hotel accommodation, according to the House of Commons Library.

Some migrants have been moved back on to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, after the discovery of Legionella bacteria in its water supply led to an evacuation in August.

Mr Jenrick said occupancy on the 500-person-capacity vessel had reached approximately 50 individuals on October 23.

Another Government plan announced in April 2022, under which some asylum seekers would be sent to Rwanda, is currently held up in the courts, with a deportation flight yet to take off.

Shadow immigration minister Mr Kinnock accused Mr Jenrick of having the “brass neck” to announce not that the Government had cut the number of hotels, but that it “simply plans to, and by a paltry 12%”.

He also questioned whether the hotels selected for the first tranche of “exiting” were located in marginal seats, as some reports previously suggested.

“Does he really think the public might not see through that ruse?” Mr Kinnock said, asking whether the Government would publish a list naming the 50 hotels.

“He sounds like an arsonist who’s burned our house down and is expecting us to thank him for throwing a bucket of water on it.”

Mr Kinnock pointed to the weather in accusing the Conservatives of performing poorly in their bid to stop boat crossings in the Channel, saying the journeys were continuing despite the 2023 summer having been the “wettest since 1912”.

Mr Jenrick joked in his reply: “Every time I come to this chamber it’s about the weather. The honourable gentleman is becoming the Michael Fish of British politics – he always gets the forecast wrong.”

The immigration minister described the plans as a “milestone” but not enough” and not a moment for “triumphalism”.

Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke, in whose Dover seat migrant boats frequently arrive, praised the Government for making what she described as “immense efforts” to tackle the issue.

Mr Jenrick responded: “Although today marks significant progress, and certainly very significant progress compared to what we are seeing in other European countries, this quite clearly is not enough.

“Her constituents want us to stop the boats in their entirety, and that is what we are setting out to do. So today is not a day for triumphalism, it’s a milestone.

“Tomorrow we get back to work and we get back to stopping the boats.”