GB News: Fiery clash over councils taking in Afghan refugees
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Around 200 asylum seekers will be settled at Britannia Hotel in central Wolverhampton, West Midlands, as part of the Home Office’s dispersal programme. Many are said to have arrived without basics, such as nappies and clothing, and the local authority has branded the government scheme “broken”.
But in hitting back, the Home Office insist the asylum seekers are given “free, fully furnished accommodation and are served three meals a day.”
The Britannia group has been ranked as the UK’s worst hotel chain for eight years in a row. The Wolverhampton establishment has been rated two out of five by visitors with 50 per cent of them deeming it “terrible”.
City of Wolverhampton Council, controlled by the Labour Party, said it was left out of the relocation process.
It has appealed to Serco, which is leading the accommodation programme, to work together to help provide support to asylum seekers being housed in the city.
Speaking to BlackCountryLive, Councillor Ian Brookfield, leader of the council, said: “This is a hidden issue and it is not just impacting Wolverhampton, it’s Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley and Coventry.
“It is happening on a huge scale and it proves that the scheme is broken. We are bearing the brunt – we don’t know where these people are from or what help they need.
“There are plenty of other local authorities who are not even getting one asylum seeker.
“Some of them have arrived here in a terrible state, there’s people with no clothes, no nappies for the kids. We know Serco are running this but they could at least put a little bit of humanity into it. As a council, we are left out of the whole process.
“The Home Office needs to work with local authorities so we can help these people.”
With the government intent on resettling 20,000 refugees across the UK over the coming years, councils across the country have shared their commitment to house families.
All seven authorities across the West Midlands, including Birmingham City Council, have already said they’ll home refugees.
But Serco says hotels are the last resort.
Jenni Halliday, Serco’s Contract Director for Asylum Accommodation Services, said: “With the significant increases in the number of people arriving in the UK we have been faced with no alternative but to temporarily accommodate some asylum seekers in hotels.
“These hotels are only used as a last resort but as a provider of accommodation services on behalf of the Home Office we have a responsibility to find accommodation for the asylum seekers that are being placed in our care. The Serco team is working extremely hard to move people into dispersed social housing as rapidly as possible.”
A Home Office spokesperson added: “Asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are provided with free, fully furnished accommodation and served three meals a day as well as all other essentials while applications are considered.
“Due to the unprecedented demand, we have had to use temporary accommodation such as hotels to manage demands on the asylum estate.
“The Home Office and accommodation provider Serco continue to engage and work closely with Wolverhampton Council on this issue.”
BlackCountryLive reached out to the Britannia Hotel but it declined to comment.
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