Express & Star

Home Office ordered to improve engagement with councils over asylum hotels

Home Office officials have been slammed after asylum seekers were dumped in a West Midlands hotel without prior warning.

A group of migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel on March 6 [Gareth Fuller/PA Wire]

Cannock Chase Council has raised concerns over the "lack of engagement" from officials when taking over hotels in the district to temporarily house migrants.

The authority's leader, Councillor Olivia Lyons, said hotels were being procured "without any council knowledge or involvement".

She said community tensions had risen surrounding one hotel which had been used since late 2021, and that the Home Office had given "very little reassurance" over finding a more permanent arrangement to house migrants.

The council has called for local authorities and police to be given a minimum of two weeks notice before asylum seekers are placed in hotels, and for a "maximum length of stay" to be established.

Councillor Lyons said: "We hope that a reassuring long-term plan for dispersal with realistic timescales will be forthcoming."

In response, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, said: "The unprecedented strain placed on the asylum system has not only impacted our ability to find suitable accommodation for people as quickly as is necessary, but also our engagement with local authorities.

"It is extremely disappointing to hear that you did not receive notification of hotels being stood up in your area.

"We have heard your frustrations about poor prior engagement, and I instructed officials to take immediate steps to improve the level of service from the Home Office so that it is timely, clear and comprehensive.

"The initial minimum performance standards will be reviewed regularly and, wherever possible, service levels will be progressively revised upwards."

He added that the Government was taking steps to reduce the dependency on hotels, including speeding up the asylum claims process by taking on more caseworkers, and by seeking out alternative forms of accommodation.

The issue was also raised in the Commons by Cannock Chase MP Amanda Milling, who said her constituents were "angry" about the use of hotels to house asylum seekers.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the Government would be able to stop migrants being placed in hotels once it had "stopped the boats coming here in the first place".

The Government has this week announced new legislation aimed at reducing illegal immigration, including measures to remove anyone arriving in Britain from across the Channel on small boats.

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