UK government spending £1m a day on hotels for Afghan refugees

About 9,500 are still in temporary accommodation, almost one year on from the Taliban seizing power

About 7,000 Afghanistan evacuees are said to have been moved into settled accommodation since arriving in the UK. Getty
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About 9,500 Afghan refugees who fled from the Taliban to Britain are still living in hotels almost a year later, it has emerged.

They are being housed in about 70 British hotels, at a cost of about £1 million ($1.2m) a day, as the first anniversary of the Taliban seizing power on August 15 last year approaches.

This is slightly down from 84 hotels which were previously being used, and it is understood government officials are looking at ways to reduce costs.

In February, the UK Parliament's home affairs committee heard that the government was spending £4.7 million a day housing asylum seekers in hotels — of which £1.2 million was for Afghan refugees.

In June, hundreds of Afghans in the UK received a letter from the Home Office advising them they were being moved to new cities.

Around 7,000 Afghans are said to have been moved into settled accommodation since arriving in the country.

Under the UK government's hotel policy, Afghan refugees miss out on chances to work and study.

The government acknowledges that living in hotels for months is not good for families, and are working to move them on to settled accommodation as quickly as possible, officials say.

It has emerged that some refugees had initially been reluctant to move to places such as Scotland or Wales because they believed English is not spoken there and it is too cold.

Afghan refugees in a playroom in a hotel in Leeds. PA

Officials say they are working closely with families to encourage them to accept offers of accommodation and clear up any misconceptions.

Some 350 councils across the UK are understood to have offered to house refugees.

But it is said to be complex in terms of matching families with appropriate homes according to their needs — on top of wider pressures on the housing system.

In June, refugees minister Lord Richard Harrington wrote to councils saying he was determined to move refugees from Afghanistan out of hotel accommodation, and appealed for further help.

But he said in June there were fewer than 100 properties available that matched needs.

Lord Harrington said most refugees in hotels were larger families and needed properties with at least four bedrooms.

He said his department was reaching out to landlords, property developers, the wider private rented sector and educational establishments over properties which could be converted, to encourage further offers of homes.

Ahead of Monday's first anniversary of the Taliban taking Kabul, British officials have not provided an up-to-date total for the number of people who have arrived in the UK from Afghanistan.

An update is due to be published within quarterly immigration statistics at a later date.

Watch: Eyes On … Afghanistan's Refugees

Updated: August 12, 2022, 1:34 PM
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