UK

Homeless migrants could end up in hotels again, LGA warns

The Local Government Association, which represents councils, has warned of the homelessness risk as migrants are moved out of hotels (Alamy/PA)
The Local Government Association, which represents councils, has warned of the homelessness risk as migrants are moved out of hotels (Alamy/PA)

Migrants moved out of hotels who then seek council help for homelessness could end up in temporary accommodation – including hotels – the organisation representing local authorities has warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said the number of asylum seekers presenting as homeless is likely to “dramatically increase” amid Government efforts to clear the backlog in the asylum system.

The warning comes after it was announced that the number of hotels used to house migrants will be cut by 50 over the next three months.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick told MPs in Parliament on Tuesday that the process of “exiting” the first tranche of accommodation would begin in the coming days, adding that the plans are possible because of “the progress we’ve made to stop the boats”.

The LGA said councils “share the Government’s ambitions to end hotel use for asylum seekers” but added that greater demand combined with an “acute” housing shortage means it will be “extremely challenging” for those leaving Home Office-funded accommodation to find an affordable, long-term place to stay.

In a statement, the association’s chairman Shaun Davies said: “Hotel closures have a direct impact on councils and local government wants to play an active role in working with Government on the decisions on which hotels to close. We also need advance engagement on what other alternatives, including large sites, will be opened up both for those leaving hotels and for ongoing new arrivals.”

Mr Davies added that councils are “also becoming increasingly concerned over the numbers of asylum seekers presenting as homeless which is likely to dramatically increase when Home Office accommodation is withdrawn as a result of the current clearance of the asylum backlog”.

He called for a “joint and funded approach nationally, regionally and locally to manage the move on from asylum accommodation and avoid risks of destitution and street homelessness throughout the winter”.

Mr Davies told the BBC: “The deep irony is that it might be the same hotels that the Government are looking to close down for their purposes are the very same hotels that local authorities will have to stand up and fund for temporary accommodation.”

The Refugee Council has also warned that cutting the number of hotels could be a factor in what it described as a developing “homelessness crisis” among migrants.

In March, the Government introduced plans to house asylum seekers on disused military bases and barges in a bid to cut spending on hotels, which has hit £8 million a day.

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

Meanwhile, Mr Jenrick denied that hotel cuts will be focused in Conservative-held seats.

Asked on Sky News how many hotels were being taken out of use for migrants in Labour constituencies, Mr Jenrick said: “There are a mix of different constituencies and in all four nations across the country. We don’t release the list for security reasons.”

Asked whether there were any hotels affected in Labour-held seats, he replied: “Of course.”

Pressed on reports suggesting the change was being focused in seats with a Tory MP in place, the minister said: “I wouldn’t necessarily believe everything you read in the press. It is incorrect, absolutely.

“They are in a range of different constituencies right across the country. When I took on this job a year ago I was very clear that the use of hotels for asylum seekers was wrong, it was completely inappropriate and had to end.”