07 August 2023

Ministers accused of ‘disastrous failure’ as 50,000 asylum seekers in hotels

07 August 2023

Labour has accused the Government of “disastrous failure” over its pledge to stop the boats after official figures confirmed the number of migrants staying in hotels has passed 50,000.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the data showed a “shocking” 25% increase from 40,000 in December, when Rishi Sunak promised to end the placement of asylum seekers in hotel accommodation.

Some 50,546 migrants were being housed in hotels as of June this year, according to latest Home Office figures released on Monday.

It comes as the Government kicks off a “stop the boats” week of linked announcements, which Labour said had already descended into chaos.

Earlier on Monday, minister Sarah Dines said the Bibby Stockholm barge could reach its full 500-person capacity by the end of the week.

But No 10 later appeared to suggest she had misspoken and that numbers would instead increase “over time” as the Government attempts to speed up the delayed arrival of asylum seekers onto the vessel.

The transfer to the barge – billed by ministers as alternative migrant accommodation to end the reliance on hotels – has faced opposition from the firefighters’ union, which warned it is a “potential deathtrap”, and local residents.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) expressed concerns about access to fire exits and possible overcrowding on the vessel, initially designed to accommodate about 200 people.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick insisted over the weekend it is a “safe facility”.

Ms Cooper said: “Rishi Sunak is failing to fix the Tories’ boats chaos and the Conservatives are just flailing around chasing headlines rather than getting a grip.

“The Prime Minister admitted last December that hotel use was a serious problem and promised to end it, but instead since then it has gone up by a truly shocking 25% with more asylum hotels still opening, and the taxpayer having to pay billions more pounds as a result.

“This is the direct consequence of Tory mismanagement and their disastrous failure to speed up asylum decisions or clear the backlog, which is still at a record high.”

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