True figure for housing asylum seekers in UK hotels four times higher than quoted

Government amended the number to almost four times the figure it previously told MPs

Migrants are taken to Dover, Kent, by Border Forcer officers, from a small boat found in the English Channel on January 10. PA
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The government is spending £4.7 million ($6.4m) a day housing asylum seekers in hotels, almost four times the figure it previously told MPs, the Home Office has said.

On Wednesday, the home affairs committee heard the total was £1.2 million, but a government clarification on Thursday made it clear that this figure related to Afghan refugees.

It is understood the incorrect total, provided to the committee by a Home Office official, came from a drafting error.

There are 12,000 Afghan migrants and 25,000 from other parts of the world, the Home Office also clarified.

Based on the figures provided, this works out at an estimated £127 for each person in a hotel every day, on average.

At this level, it could cost £1.7 billion a year, although totals are likely to fluctuate throughout that time.

“The use of hotels is unacceptable," a Home Office spokesman said.

"It is a short-term solution to the global migration crisis and we are working hard to find appropriate dispersed accommodation for migrants, asylum seekers and Afghan refugees as soon as possible.

“We would urge local authorities to do all they can to help house people permanently.

“Our New Plan for Immigration, which is going through Parliament now, will fix the broken asylum system, enabling us to remove those with no right to be here more quickly.”

At Wednesday’s committee session, MPs were told that the government is “optimistic” that it will find a new way of working with councils “on how we manage these costs”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the policy was “thoroughly inadequate”.

“We do not want people in hotels,” Ms Patel said.

She said the government and local authorities were “absolutely struggling” to move Afghan migrants into more suitable, permanent accommodation as the country did not have enough places.

What's it like for a migrant to cross the channel by boat?

What's it like for a migrant to cross the channel by boat?

“The use of hotels is not only thoroughly inadequate, as the Home Secretary told MPs yesterday, it is also causing real harm to men, women and children who have come to our shores in search of safety," said Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council.

“They have had to struggle to get the basic essentials they need, such as clothing and medicines, having been left for months on end without sufficient support, causing them huge anxiety and distress.

“It’s an incredibly costly and failed strategy that could be easily fixed by using public money more effectively to house people in our communities and allow them the right to work.”

Updated: February 04, 2022, 7:23 AM