One in five Afghans evicted from hotels is homeless, councils suggest
As many as a fifth of Afghan refugees in some parts of England who have been evicted from hotel accommodation have presented to councils as homeless, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.
The organisation called on the Government to pay to keep hotel places open for those struggling to find somewhere to live, warning that if this does not happen the situation is “likely to worsen significantly” in the coming weeks.
The UK promised a safe haven for thousands of people who had to flee their home country as the Taliban swept back into power in August 2021 – with many living in hotels since arriving.
Government should pay to keep hotel places open for those struggling to find accommodation
The Government said the latest figures showed around 8,000 Afghans remain in hotels, with updated numbers due to be published in the next few weeks.
Last month, Cabinet Office minister Johnny Mercer told Parliament there is no reason why Afghans being settled in the UK cannot live independently of central government support, saying the Government expects “families to help themselves”.
He said people would be expected to have left their temporary accommodation by the time their notice period expires. Residents were given at least three months’ notice, with that period having expired at the end of July for some.
At the time of the announcement, the LGA warned that many vulnerable Afghan families who fled to safety in the UK could end up homeless.
In an update on Friday, the organisation said that, anecdotally, around 20% of Afghans evicted from hotels have presented as homeless.
The LGA said this figure varies across the country.
Shaun Davies, LGA chairman, said some families are simply being shifted from hotels to temporary accommodation, which he described as “wrong”.
But he said there is “huge pressure” on councils as they deal with already record numbers of households in temporary accommodation “and an acute shortage of housing across the country”.
Government figures published last month showed the overall numbers of households and children in temporary accommodation in England are at record highs.
Some 104,510 households were in temporary accommodation by the end of March – a 25-year high.
The situation regarding Afghan refugees is causing “disruption and distress for families, some of whom are particularly vulnerable”, Mr Davies added.
He said: “This situation is likely to worsen significantly as the Home Office stops paying for the remaining bridging hotels for Afghan families in the coming days and weeks,
“We are pleased at the willingness of the Government to work closely with the LGA and councils on these issues, but it is clear we have more to do to ensure a smooth transition for Afghan families which doesn’t simply pass costs and responsibility from government to councils.
“Government should pay to keep hotel places open for those struggling to find accommodation. Hotels should also not be closed just to switch to becoming hotels for other new arrivals, so councils can continue to focus on finding Afghan families homes and schools.”
Last month, Mr Mercer said the Government had made £7,100 per person of flexible funding available “to support move-on, including through providing deposits, furniture, rental top-ups and rent advances”.
He said Afghans were being given “the most generous offer this country has ever made in the private rented sector and they get extraordinary amounts of assistance”.
A Government spokesperson said: “We’ve seen good progress with Afghans leaving hotels, with 10,500 Afghans so far provided with homes.
“We will continue to provide extensive support to all those in hotels, backed by £285 million of new funding to speed up the resettlement of Afghans into permanent accommodation, with many councils using this to provide deposits, furniture, rental top-ups and rent advances, among others.”
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