Asylum seekers to be moved to military bases and barges under new UK Govt plans
Asylum seekers will be housed in disused military bases, ferries and barges under UK Government plans to reduce the spending on hotels.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick will announce the use of two RAF sites on Wednesday as he tries to reduce the £6.8 million a day the UK Government says it spends on hotel accommodation.
The plans are likely to be controversial, with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly having already criticised suggestions a base in his Essex constituency would be used.
Sources also downplayed the likelihood of barges and ferries being used imminently, saying none had been purchased yet.
Mr Jenrick will announce that people who arrive in the UK after making Channel crossings on small boats will be housed at RAF Wethersfield and RAF Scampton.
Conservative former minister Sir Edward Leigh has previously criticised the use of Scampton, the former home of the Dambusters which sits in his Lincolnshire constituency.
A UK Government source said there is a “direction of travel” towards using ferries and barges as well but said “nothing has been bought”.
“There are no barges or ferries,” the source said, following reports in multiple newspapers.
Rishi Sunak told his Cabinet on Tuesday that the cost of using hotels and the pressure it puts on local areas meant it was not sustainable.
The Prime Minister later told MPs that children cannot be exempted from plans to detain people who cross the Channel in small boats to prevent the creation of a “pull factor”.
Appearing before the Commons Liaison Committee, he also downplayed suggestions that flights under the UK Government’s stalled Rwanda policy would begin this summer.
Mr Cleverly was critical after reports first surfaced that RAF Wethersfield, near Braintree, could be used to accommodate asylum seekers.
“I highlighted the remote nature of the site, the limited transport infrastructure and narrow road network and that these factors would mean the site wasn’t appropriate for asylum accommodation,” he wrote on Facebook.
Sir Edward, the MP for Gainsborough, raised concerns about the use of Scampton, after a deal was struck to use it as part of a £300 million regeneration project for the area.
A UK Government spokesman said: “We have always been upfront about the unprecedented pressure being placed on our asylum system, brought about by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal journeys into the country.
“We continue to work across Government and with local authorities to identify a range of accommodation options.
“The Government remains committed to engaging with local authorities and key stakeholders as part of this process.”
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