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National Audit Office: Home Office use of large asylum accommodation sites is more expensive than using hotels


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The National Audit Office has published a report ‘Investigation into asylum accommodation’, looking at the Home Office’s plans and progress in increasing the amount of asylum accommodation available. In the financial year to March 2024 the Home Office anticipates spending £4.7 billion on asylum support, £3.1 billion of which is to be spent on hotels. The latter figure is up from £2.3 billion in 2022-23.

From the press release:

By the end of March 2024, the Home Office expects to have spent at least £230 million developing four large sites – the Bibby Stockholm, the former RAF bases at Scampton and Wethersfield, and former student accommodation in Huddersfield. At the end of January 2024 they were housing approximately 900 people. 

Government has made progress in reducing the use of hotels accommodating asylum seekers, and by the end of January 2024 had stopped using 60 hotels. But, in rapidly progressing its plans to establish large sites, it has incurred losses and increased risk. The Home Office originally assessed that large sites would be around £94 million cheaper than hotels. Its latest estimates suggest they will cost £46 million more than using hotels, although the Home Office believes they will provide more appropriate and sustainable accommodation. 

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Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.