Asylum seekers contingency accommodation
You may be aware that the Home Office informed us that they intend to use hotels as accommodation for asylum seekers across the country, including West Northamptonshire.
We know you will have a lot of questions about this situation, how this happened so quickly and what the council’s involvement is. We have put together a number of responses to some frequently asked questions which will hopefully help provide understanding around what’s going on. We will continue to update these.
The Home Office recently told us that they intended to use hotels as temporary accommodation. This is due to the number of boats crossing the English Channel continuing to rise.
The use of hotels is happening across the country and not just in West Northamptonshire. This provision is managed by a Home Office contractor.
The Home Office makes the decision on which properties are used. We get briefed at short notice if a hotel has been selected for this purpose.
No, we are not receiving any funding to support those staying at a hotel.
Who stays at a hotel is based on need and pressures within the asylum system. This information is held by the Home Office.
At the moment we do not know how long the hotels will be used. People will be moved out as other accommodation in the asylum system is made available to them. This means that the people staying in the hotel will change over time.
After the hotel they will be moved on to other temporary dispersed accommodation provided by central government whilst their claim for asylum is considered. This could be anywhere in the country. This accommodation is not provided by the council.
Where asylum is granted, people are recognised as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention and are allowed to remain in the UK for five years.
Where the Home Office grants asylum, people will be given a Residence Permit; an identity document allowing the person to work, study, access public funds and find a place to live.
There is no rule to say people must settle where they have been staying while seeking asylum.
Yes, they will be able to access local health services in the same way as any person visiting West Northamptonshire on a temporary basis would have. Our Public Health team are in discussions with local health providers to manage this.
All children placed in West Northants are given access to education. This could be through attendance at local schools and colleges or through other ways depending upon the needs of those placed here.
The contractors are providing additional staff to ensure appropriate 24-hour, 7 days a week, on-site security cover.
The contractor who is overseeing the hotel has a manager on-site and we are in contact with them daily and will raise any concerns with regard to any anti-social behaviour that is reported to us.
The local Police are aware that the hotels are being used to accommodate asylum seekers and are working closely with us and partner agencies.
The Police will deal with any reports or concerns as they would normally do so.
If you are experiencing any concerns about noise and anti-social behaviour from the hotel, please email [email protected] where it will be raised with the hotel and relevant partners.
If you have a crime to report, please contact the Police in the usual ways by either calling 101 or using their online reporting form. Only use 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger or if the crime is happening right now.
If you have any questions about the provision of the hotel, please contact the Home Office by emailing [email protected].
Where people are claiming asylum from the Home Office, they are recognised as asylum seekers and are waiting for their asylum application to be assessed.
Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country that has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and to remain there until the authorities have assessed their claim. This is a legal process.
An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country, often suddenly, because they are faced with persecution, war or violence and cannot get protection there. Many have fled war-torn countries, were trafficked to the UK or faced persecution and violence. They have temporary accommodation until their asylum request has been processed.
The Home Office are responsible for processing claims for asylum and aim to process those applications within six months.
Where asylum is granted, people are recognised as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention and are allowed to remain in the UK for five years. At the end of five years, subject to the outcome of any review and to the policies in place at the time, people can seek indefinite leave to remain.
Some of the asylum seekers may be newly arrived in the UK and others may have been in the UK for some time whilst awaiting a decision on their asylum claim.
The number of refugees and people seeking asylum goes up and down, depending on what is happening in the world. Conflict in several countries has swelled recent figures, for example.
Most asylum seekers flee over their nearest border, where they are likely to live in camps.
This can be seen in the case of Syria. Of the 6.7 million Syrian refugees globally, a staggering 4.6 million are being hosted by its neighbours – Turkey and Lebanon.
Asylum seekers come from many parts of the world. Government statistics suggest that for the year ending September 2021 highest numbers came from Iran, Eritrea, Albania, Iraq and Syria. The nationality of those residing at the hotel will therefore vary.
Asylum seekers are not able to claim welfare benefits, nor are they allowed to work.
Asylum seekers in hotel accommodation where food and some services are provided, currently receive £8 per week.
They are not.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), women and girls make up about half of any asylum seeking, refugee or internally displaced population.
However, women and children may be left in refugee camps in neighbouring countries while the men leave the camp to take the risky and often deadly trip to another country.
Families that travel together in a big group have a harder time with the logistics. Women and children are also at much higher risk of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation by traffickers and organised criminal gangs on the route. Therefore, families may stay behind and wait until the men have applied for asylum and the rest of their family will then follow in a much safer way. This is often facilitated by the British Red Cross.
Most do stay in the first safe country. 80% of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees are living in countries neighbouring their country of origin.
The number one reason that asylum seekers give for continuing their journey to the UK is that they have family ties here. This covers over 50% of cases. Other factors that people will take into account are more practical, for example, if you speak the language, you have more chance of being able to find a job and you can navigate everyday tasks like understanding public transport or going shopping.
It is also not uncommon for asylum seekers to also state their belief that the UK is a safe, tolerant and democratic country and refer to previous links between their own country and the UK.
There is no legal requirement for an asylum seeker to make their claim in any particular country.
There is no such thing as an ‘illegal’ or ‘bogus’ asylum seeker.
Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country, that has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and to remain there until the authorities have assessed their claim.
It is a legal process.
If you would like to know more about a charity or organisation that is supporting people in a hotel, or if you would like to help in some way, please email [email protected].
Last updated 22 December 2022