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Homeowners asked to take in migrants as hotel bill hits £2.4bn

Homeowners and care homes are asked to take in migrants as cost to keep asylum seekers in hotels hits £2.4billion a year

  • Serco will consider all types of homes in North West Midlands and East England
  • Private contractor was awarded £1.9bn contract to house migrants back in 2019 
  • Serco is placing at least 30,000 asylum seekers in 6,000 homes across Britain

Homeowners are being asked to take in migrants as asylum centres reach capacity and the collective hotel bill hits £2.4billion a year, it was reported last night. 

Private contractor Serco is offering potential landlords rent and maintenance costs for up to five years as well as covering tenants’ council tax and bills.

Serco has said it will consider all types of property in the North West Midlands and East of England – including empty properties, second homes, care homes and student accommodation, according to The Sun.

It comes as the latest figures show the Home Office managed to process just four per cent of asylum claims from people who crossed the Channel last year, while a record 38,000-plus have arrived by small boat to the UK in 2022 so far. 

Serco was awarded a 10-year contract – worth a record £1.9bn – by the Home Office in 2019 and is housing at least 30,000 asylum seekers in 6,000 homes. 

But the plan has enraged some ministers, with MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke fearing it will only work to worsen the housing shortage. 

She told the Sun: ‘The small boats crisis is making it much harder for Brits already struggling to keep a roof over their head or get a home of their own. 

‘This underlines why it is so important to tackle the crisis to reduce pressure on housing and other vital local services.’

MailOnline has contacted Serco for comment.  

A total of 28,526 people tried to cross the Channel in small boats last year. Pictured are migrants on the beach of Gravelines, near Dunkirk, on October 12 

Migrants are brought to shore at Dungeness by the RNLI in two lifeboats on October 12 

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under extreme pressure.

‘As a result of this incredible strain, there are currently more than 33,000 asylum-seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer more than £5million a day. This is unacceptable and we are working hard with local authorities to find safe, permanent accommodation.’

Some 96 per cent of asylum applications submitted by migrants making the journey in 2021 are still outstanding, Dan O’Mahoney, Border Force clandestine threat commander, told the Home Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday.

‘One to two per cent of the young male population of Albania cross Channel in small boats’ 

Mr O’Mahoney described an ‘exponential’ rise in the number of Albanians making the Channel crossing – 12,000 this year, including 10,000 single men. 

He said this was equivalent to roughly one to two per cent of the young male population of the country. This category is understood to include men aged 20 to 40. 

‘Two years ago, 50 Albanians arrived in the UK on small boats, last year it was 800 and this year, so far, it’s been 12,000 – of which about 10,000 are single adult men,’ he said. 

‘So the rise has been exponential, and we think that is in the main because Albanian criminal gangs have gained a foothold in the north of France and have begun facilitating large numbers of migrants. There are within that cohort undoubtedly people who need our help, there are also a large number who are deliberately gaming the system.’ 

Of the 4 per cent completed, 85 per cent were granted refugee status or another protection status. 

MPs heard £5.6m a day was being spent on hotels for people who have arrived in the UK and have submitted a claim, with an additional £1.2m paid to house Afghan refugees who fled the Taliban takeover while long-term accommodation is sought.

The total £6.8m is £2m-plus more than the Government said it was spending in February (£4.7m). Asked by committee chairwoman Dame Diana Johnson if the cost was likely to go up again, Abi Tierney, director general of the passport office and UK visas and immigration, replied: ‘Yes.’ 

It also emerged yesterday that the proportion of attempted crossings that were being intercepted by French police has fallen, from around 50 per cent last year to 42.5 per cent so far in 2022. The French have stopped 28,000 migrants from crossing in 1,072 boats this year, Mr O’Mahoney told MPs. 

He accepted this was a lower percentage but stressed it was a ‘much, much bigger number’, telling how French authorities had stopped 28,000 migrants crossing the Channel and intercepted and destroyed 1,072 boats so far this year.

‘I should put on record my thanks to the French … this is around double what they managed to achieve last year, so that is really, really significant,’ Mr O’Mahoney said.

But he added: ‘It is correct to say that migrants can attempt to cross on more than one occasion and therefore those 28,000 migrants may not be individual, different migrants, so it’s 28,000 attempts.’ 

More than 38,000 people have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in over 900 boats in 2022 to date, compared with 28,526 last year. 

Curbing the increase in migrants risking their lives by crossing the Channel will be one of the main priorities for Rishi Sunak as he begins his term as Prime Minister. 

In France migrants are not detained and processed after being caught attempting to cross the Channel. 

Mr O’Mahoney said French laws make it ‘difficult for French officers to take any action in that way’.

He told the committee French beach patrols in the north of the country were only ‘one brick in the wall’ of the efforts to curb Channel crossings.

Work by the UK and French authorities have led to 55 serious organised crime gangs behind such crossings being ‘dismantled’ since a joint intelligence cell was set up in France a couple of years ago, he added. 

The Novotel hotel chain is also understood to have also reached lucrative agreements with the Home Office to house migrants (pictured: Novotel at Newcastle Airport)

Hotels that have been used to house migrants include four-star rated accommodation like the Royal Hotel in Hull

Suella Braverman was reinstalled as Home Secretary yesterday just six days after being forced out for breaking the Ministerial Code

Call for inquiry as Braverman returns to the Home Office six days after sacking  

Rishi Sunak is facing calls for an official inquiry into Suella Braverman after he reappointed the Home Secretary six days after she was sacked for a security breach.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats raised ‘national security’ concerns and demanded a Cabinet Office investigation on Wednesday after the new Prime Minister brought her back.

Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, the most senior civil servant, is ‘livid’ over her swift return and ‘very concerned’ about the breach, a source told the Times. Liz Truss forced Ms Braverman out after she breached the ministerial code by sending an official document to a Tory backbencher from a personal email.

Ms Braverman, who had been in the role six weeks, said she made a ‘mistake’ which she conceded was a ‘technical infringement’ of the rules. But questions remain about why she sent the document to fellow right-winger Sir John Hayes and how she accidentally copied in an aide to another MP, who sounded the alarm.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper wrote to Mr Case demanding an investigation ‘into the extent of this and other possible security breaches’.

‘Given the Prime Minister’s decision to reappoint her to the Cabinet post overseeing national security, it is vital for the public to have transparency on what occurred,’ she wrote.

In October alone, at least 5,000 have made the journey, according to provisional Government figures, but no crossings were recorded by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Monday or Tuesday.

Mr Sunak has committed to continuing the Government’s bid to send migrants who enter the UK illegally to Rwanda. But the £120million scheme has still yet to get going, amid a series of legal challenges, despite it being announced back in April.

Former Home Secretary Priti Patel unveiled the plans as a means of clamping down on the number of migrants making perilous journeys to Britain across the Channel.

Mr Sunak will have to decide how he will push forward with the scheme, including possibly overhauling Britain’s relationship with the European Convention on Human Rights.

And, if the scheme continues to stall, the PM will have decide on what further action to take to try to stem the number of migrants arriving in small boats.    

Suella Braverman was reinstalled as Home Secretary yesterday just six days after being forced out for breaking the Ministerial Code. 

Earlier this month, Ms Braverman set out new plans which would ban migrants who cross the Channel from claiming asylum and said it was her ‘dream’ to see a  government flight deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda.

‘We have to stop the boats crossing the Channel. This has gone on for far too long,’ Ms Braverman told the Conservative Party conference. 

‘I will pledge to you today that I will bring forward legislation to make it clear that the only route to the United Kingdom is through a safe and legal route.’

The new powers would go further than existing legislation and were designed to create a blanket ban on anyone who enters Britain illegally, including on small boats across the English Channel, from claiming refuge, a government source said.

Charity Care4Calais called the government’s proposals ‘barbaric, untruthful and unnecessary’ and said most asylum seekers who come to Britain are genuine refugees.  

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