Government Spends £15 Million a Day on Hotels for Illegal Immigrants: Labour

Last year, the Home Office and the Border Force recorded close to 30,000 migrants crossing the English Channel illegally in small boats.
Government Spends £15 Million a Day on Hotels for Illegal Immigrants: Labour
Illegal immigrants crossing the in a small boat traveling from France off the coast of Dover, England, on Aug. 29, 2023. (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Evgenia Filimianova

The Labour Party has suggested that the government is overspending on accommodation and support for illegal immigrants by £4.3 billion, paying £15 million a day on hotels.

The Home Office has been estimated to spend £5.4 billion on asylum accommodation and support. The figures, brought forward by the opposition, suggested that the cost to the taxpayer is much higher than that claimed in the Treasury budget last year.

Labour said that the government’s failure to clear the backlog of asylum cases led to additional claims for the Treasury, which last year reached £4.3 billion.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of “spending billions on hotel rooms” and exceeding his budget because of the soaring backlog cases.

“This lays bare the complete chaos the Tories have created in the asylum system,” Ms. Cooper said.

Sore Point

Illegal immigration has been a sore point for Mr. Sunak, who has pledged to stop people crossing the English Channel in small boats. The government’s plan to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda, including those who crossed the English Channel in small boats, has faced multiple legal hurdles over the safety of the scheme.

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill is currently at report stage in the House of Lords, awaiting further scrutiny before it can become law.

“Tackling the issue of illegal migration requires bold, innovative solutions—our partnership with Rwanda offers just that,” a Home Office spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the costs of accommodating illegal immigrants has remained a pressing issue for Downing Street. Last year, the government introduced plans to house immigrants on disused military bases and barges in a bid to cut spending on hotels, which has hit £8 million a day.
The government has acknowledged the backlog of asylum decisions, which according to Mr. Sunak was cleared by the end of 2023. The prime minister came under fire for failing to clarify that thousands of “legacy” claims had still been awaiting an initial decision.

“Despite promises of action from the prime minister, they have not delivered,” said Ms. Cooper.

The government should focus on the “problems they’ve created by letting the backlog spiral out of control,” she suggested. UK taxpayers, struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, will “rightly want to know” why the government is spending millions every day on immigrant accommodation, Ms. Cooper said.

Volatile Budget Area

The permanent secretary at the Home Office, Sir Matthew Rycroft, recognised that asylum was a “volatile area to budget.” In a letter to the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr. Rycroft said that since the government issued its Spending Review in 2021, additional asylum costs have come to light.

Ministers managed them through the usual process of supplementary estimates, or means by which the government seeks authority from Parliament for its own spending each year.

Government departments may amend their budgets in the course of a financial year and ask for additional resources, capital, or cash.

Mr. Rycroft said that the Treasury had to claim extra funding as a result of “record levels of small boat arrivals since the Spending Review 2021.”

“The Home Office has also been managing it through efficiency savings. Indeed, we are taking steps to ensure the asylum system delivers better value for money for the taxpayer, such as ending the costly use of hotels and looking at a range of alternative accommodation sites,” he added.

In the last week 539 migrants crossed the English Channel in small boats without permission to enter the UK. Last year, close to 30,000 migrants were recorded crossing.

The 2023 figures were down 36 percent from 45,774 arrivals the year before.

Illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson suggested that Labour would fail to “stop the boats” and take Britain “back to square one meaning unlimited and uncontrolled immigration.”

PA contributed to this report.
Evgenia Filimianova is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in UK politics, parliamentary proceedings and socioeconomic issues.
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