Rishi Sunak has offered to house asylum seekers in an Army barracks in his parliamentary constituency as part of the Government’s efforts to end the use of hotels, the Immigration Minister has announced.
The Prime Minister is “showing leadership” by “bringing forward proposals to provide accommodation in Catterick Garrison barracks in his constituency”, Robert Jenrick said in a Commons statement.
The minister also also confirmed plan to use former military sites in Essex and Lincolnshire – thought to be RAF Wethersfield and RAF Scampton, the former home of the Red Arrows and the Dambusters – for asylum accommodation in a bid to end the use of hotels which is costing £5.6m a day and has triggered a backlash from Conservative MPs.
He also announced a “separate site” in East Sussex, without going into details.
Mr Jenrick said the Government will also provide “generous” funding support for councils to house asylum seekers in what is known as “dispersal” accommodation in local areas.
“we are announcing a new funding package which includes a generous additional
per bed payment and continuation of the funding for every new dispersal bed made
Available,” he said.
“We will also pilot an additional incentive payment where properties are made available faster.”
Following briefings to some newspapers that the Government was ready to put asylum seekers in floating barges, or cruise ships, Mr Jenrick could only say that ministers were “exploring the possibility of accommodating migrants in vessels as in Scotland and the Netherlands”.
Mr Jenrick said: “This Government remains committed to meeting our legal obligations to those who would otherwise be destitute, but we are not prepared to go further.
“Accommodation for migrants should meet their essential living needs and nothing more because we cannot risk becoming a magnet for the millions of people who are displaced
and seeking better economic prospects.
“Many of our European partners are struggling with this same issue – Belgium, Ireland, Germany and France are having to take similar steps – and the UK must adapt to this changing context.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.