The proposal by the Home Office to greatly decrease the number of pending asylum requests has been cautioned by Glasgow city council, stating that it could lead to a “humanitarian crisis” by causing a rise in homelessness for refugees.
The council has determined a clear connection between the Home Office’s announcement on Tuesday of closing 50 hotels used for asylum seekers and their plans to process asylum applications in bulk later this year in order to address the current backlog of unresolved cases.
On Tuesday, Robert Jenrick, the minister in charge of immigration, informed Members of Parliament that the Home Office plans to relocate asylum seekers from 50 hotels across the UK by January of next year. More hotels will be removed from use for asylum seekers in the months that follow.
Although the complete list of locations where hotels are being emptied has not been disclosed, the Commons statement mentioned that all but one of the identified areas are in constituencies held by Conservative party members. There were indications that the Home Office would prioritize marginal Tory seats for the initial phase of the program.
The Home Office has informed the Glasgow council that they will be handling the cases of 2,500 asylum seekers living in the city in a bulk manner, during the same time frame. This city has the highest number of refugees outside of London.
Authorities in Glasgow estimate that approximately 1,800 individuals will be granted refugee status as a result.
Once they are given permission to stay, those individuals will be instructed to vacate their publicly-funded housing. If they are unable to secure alternative living arrangements, the local council will assume responsibility for their housing.
The city predicts that approximately 1,400 individuals will experience homelessness, with 77% requiring immediate shelter. This will significantly exacerbate the city’s existing homelessness issue, resulting in an estimated additional expense of over £50 million. However, the Home Office has currently declined to provide funding for this.
The leader of Glasgow city council, Susan Aitken, stated that the Home Office lacks a clear understanding of where these individuals will be accommodated. She also criticized ministers for not adequately preparing for the expected increase in homeless refugees.
According to her, the act of shutting down hotels is simply a ploy to make voters believe that the government is following through on its harsh anti-asylum stance. However, in reality, this action is just a strategic maneuver of relocating individuals as if they were game pieces on a chessboard.
Authorities in Glasgow anticipate that other cities, such as Manchester and Liverpool, may also encounter comparable difficulties.
Aitken expressed concern that the UK’s asylum policy is based on the concept of “out of sight, out of mind,” even if it leads to a potential humanitarian crisis in various cities. However, he believes that this can be avoided if the Home Office collaborates with them and allocates necessary resources to handle asylum cases in Glasgow in an organized manner.
In his statement to the Commons, Jenrick expressed willingness to talk about the matter with Chris Stephens, the SNP’s spokesperson for justice and immigration. He also acknowledged that Glasgow has unique difficulties in providing housing for refugees.
On Thursday, the council will be asked by the Labour group’s deputy leader, Soryia Siddique, to consider building temporary villages using “modular and prefabricated buildings and other forms of temporary housing” for those made homeless.
Jenrick announced the plan for hotels and stated that the removal of asylum seekers from the first 50 hotels will start soon and will be finished by the end of January. Additional batches will follow shortly after.
In a statement that is often heavily influenced by politics, Jenrick criticized Labour MPs for lacking strategies to address asylum seekers crossing the Channel and for advocating for open borders.
During a conversation with his Labour colleague, Stephen Kinnock, he stated, “The new towns that Keir Starmer announced at the Labour party conference will be populated by undocumented immigrants.”
It is currently understood that approximately 5,000 individuals seeking asylum are being required to share hotel rooms with unrelated individuals as a result of the Home Office’s lesser-known “maximisation policy” in order to fit more asylum seekers into limited hotel accommodations.
Emma Birks, the manager of campaigns at Asylum Matters, is keeping track of the new policy. She stated that the government is causing a crisis for the physical and mental health of those seeking asylum in the UK. The chosen approach by ministers is causing traumatized individuals to be crowded into hotels and other temporary housing, with children and young people sharing rooms with unfamiliar adults.