The UK government has announced plans to house asylum seekers in disused military bases as a cost-cutting measure, with each site having the capacity to house 1,500-2,000 migrants. The move comes as the government claims to be spending £6.2m a day on hotel accommodation for asylum seekers, with over 51,000 people currently housed in 400 hotels across the country.
Minister for Immigration Robert Jenrick revealed the plans on Wednesday, saying that accommodation for illegal migrants should “meet their essential living needs” and “nothing more”. He added that the ex-military locations, including RAF Wethersfield in Essex, RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, a site in Bexhill, East Sussex of the former training centre, known as Northeye , and barracks in Catterick Garrison, will be used to house new arrivals rather than rehouse those currently in hotels.
Speaking in the Commons, Jenrick said: “Today the Government is announcing the first tranche of sites we will set up to provide basic accommodation at scale. These will be scaled up over the coming months and will collectively provide accommodation to several thousands asylum seekers through repurposed barrack blocks and portacabins.”
He also noted that the new sites “will not end the use of hotels overnight”, but will “relieve pressure on our communities and manage asylum seekers in a more appropriate and cost-effective way”. The announcement has been met with mixed reactions, with some critics expressing concern over the conditions of the military bases and the impact on local communities.
Bexhill MP, Huw Merriman, has responded to today’s announcement by the Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, that a site in East Sussex has been chosen to house asylum seekers. It will located on the site of a former training centre, known as Northeye, in Bexhill.
This is part of the government’s policy to house asylum seekers in suitable, safe accommodation where they can access appropriate support whilst their asylum cases are considered. The government’s argue the current use of hotels, hostels and other temporary accommodation is not suitable, sustainable, or cost-effective for British taxpayers or local authorities.
Huw said “I know that this decision will have an impact on local authorities and public services. It will also be of great concern to local residents.
“It is important that the community is fully appraised of the proposals and reassured as to the impact. I will be meeting with the Immigration Minister, and officials, at the Home Office tomorrow to take forward local concerns along with any proposals and ideas which local stakeholders and I consider would be necessary or helpful. I am keen to identify the challenges and issues this will create for the town and its residents. I will work with the Home Office, and other organisations, to deliver the resources and safeguards which will be needed to reassure residents.”
In a joint statement from East Sussex County Council and Rother District Council, People in our communities are likely to have many questions about the government’s plans to house asylum seekers at the Northeye site in Bexhill, a former prison and military training centre.
Rother District Council and East Sussex County Council will work together, and with all our local partners, to understand and assess in more detail the impact this would have on local communities.
We will also share this analysis with the government and work with them to ensure the Home Office addresses all issues identified.