The Home Office has informed Wyre Forest District Council that it intends to use a hotel in Kidderminster to house asylum seekers.
The UK has international humanitarian obligations to assess people who arrive in the UK and claim asylum. For several years, the Home Office has not been able to house everyone waiting for a decision on their asylum application. This is because they do not have enough facilities. To cope with the demand it is using hotels and other suitable accommodation across the UK. In Worcestershire, two hotels in the Wychavon district are already being used.
Responding to the Home Office decision, Councillor Helen Dyke, Leader of the Council said:
“We can confirm the Home Office informed us last night that they intend to use a Kidderminster hotel as accommodation for asylum seekers. This is part of the Government’s obligations under the Refugee Convention.
The council wasn’t involved in the decision and we weren’t consulted in advance. But we do understand the need for asylum seekers to be appropriately housed while their claims are assessed.
Wyre Forest has a history of welcoming people of all nationalities, and we are ready and willing to play our part in helping these vulnerable people who have been through so much.
Asylum seekers often come from countries that have been affected by war or other political or humanitarian crises. Many of them will have had difficult and dangerous journeys to reach the UK. This includes those who cross the English Channel on small boats. They deserve our understanding. Please show them the same compassion you’re demonstrating in responding to the desperate plight of the people of Ukraine.
We will be working with the Home Office, Worcestershire County Council and other relevant organisations to prepare for their arrival. At the moment we do not know exactly when these people will arrive or how long they will be here with us.”
The hotel is understood to be the Gainsborough House Hotel on Bewdley Hill. The Home Office will bear the cost of using it and a company will be operating it on their behalf. The District Council’s services are not expected to be impacted. This is because asylum seekers are not able to work and are not eligible for the services the council provides. It means they are not able to be allocated social housing or to receive welfare support from the council. The Home Office pays asylum seekers a weekly allowance of £39.63.
The Home Office has informed the Council that it plans to make arrangements for the hotel to be available for use from 21 March. The exact start date will depend on the demands in the asylum system.
Notes for editors
The Home Office notified its decision on the evening of 10 March. It explained that “small boat arrivals during last summer were exceptionally high and we are working hard to prepare for the likelihood of a high number of arrivals over the coming months. To ensure we have sufficient capacity to comply with our statutory duties to accommodate people seeking asylum who are at risk of destitution, we must continue to utilise contingency accommodation.”
The Council has not been provided with information on the number of asylum seekers that might be accommodated at the hotel and whether they will be single adults, families or a mixture.
For more media information from Wyre Forest District Council, please contact:
The Communications Team on 01562 732988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org