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Asylum seekers in migrant hotels sue Home Office over ‘unfit housing’

Migrant crisis: Tory MP blasts Labour for ‘cagey’ argument

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Lawyers for migrants awaiting asylum decisions have issued High Court claims insisting the Government provides permanent self-catering homes. Claims include a father of eight who wanted to live nearer his children’s various schools and another refugee who requested a four-bed detached house.

With unprecedented numbers of asylum seekers arriving, many via small boats across the Channel, the Home Office has in some cases booked entire hotels to house people for lengthy periods while claims are considered.

It is costing close to £7million a day, the equivalent of £2.5billion a year.

It emerged last week there is severe overcrowding at Manston migrant processing centre in Kent, which had 4,000 people in it, more than double the intended amount.

Now, the Sunday Express can reveal that at least 15 families, none of whom can be identified for legal reasons, have lodged claims about alleged unsuitable hotel or other accommodation with the High Court.

Although many have fled war-torn countries or oppressive regimes, lawyers have mounted a number of claims alleging that accommodation has had a negative impact on clients’ lives.

Last month the court heard a claim by a Syrian family in a west London hotel, arguing two parents and two children were in one room with not enough space.

It added: “The family do not have access to a washing machine and the laundry service is not frequent enough, with the result that the children are bullied at school for wearing unclean clothes. There are no self-catering facilities and the food provided is inadequate.”

Judge Sir Ross Cranston refused permission, stating: “I cannot see there is any legal foundation to the challenge.”

A claim in September from an Iraqi Kurdish couple with four children, one born in the UK, progressed to the next stage after Mrs Justice Hill heard one child is severely disabled and they are housed in two rooms at separate ends of a corridor.

They also argued “there is no self-contained kitchen and hotel food is not suitable for the children, while rooms are small and not properly ventilated.”

The Home Office promised to move them but by August it hadn’t. Some claims were very specific.

A claim lodged in July pressed for a detached four-bedroom home “which is step-free, self-catering, self-contained, which contains an orthopaedic bed and appropriate handrails and shower seat”.

In another claim, a father of eight wanted a home better located to the different schools he was using.

Two other claims complained of “overcrowded” accommodation and delays in being moved to longer-term housing. The cases were adjourned.

Alp Mehmet, chair of campaign group MigrationWatch UK, questioned how the civil action is being funded. He said: “This smacks of legal opportunism… legal aid would underpin such action.”

The Home Office declined to release the total number of similar claims but confirmed it had lost some cases. It added: “We ensure safe accommodation is provided to asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute.”

But Tim Naor Hilton, of Refugee Action, said: “Challenges will continue until the Government ditches the hostility and puts people in fit and appropriate homes.”

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