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Migrant hotels bill climbs to £8m a day, according to Home Office accounts

Migrant hotels are costing the Home Office around £8m per day according to the department’s accounts (James Manning/PA)
Migrant hotels are costing the Home Office around £8m per day according to the department’s accounts (James Manning/PA)

The Home Office is paying “around £8 million” per day for asylum seekers to be put up in hotels, according to the department’s annual accounts.

The figure is higher than the £6 million daily cost cited by Home Secretary Suella Braverman in the Commons on Monday.

Labour’s home affairs spokeswoman Yvette Cooper said the bill for hotels was “astronomical” and accused the Tories of failing to grip the issue of unlawful migration.

The department’s annual report and accounts for 2022-23, published on Tuesday, said the arrival of small boats of migrants across the Channel was placing an “unsustainable pressure on our asylum system and accommodation services”, costing taxpayers more than £3 billion a year.

The Conservative UK Government passed the Illegal Migration Act in July, which is designed to give powers to deport asylum seekers arriving via unauthorised routes either back to their home country or to Rwanda.

The £140 million deal to send migrants to the East Africa nation, however, is held up in the courts, with a deportation flight yet to leave the runway.

The Act, according to the Home Office’s annual report, “goes further than ever before” to prevent the arrival of small boats but said “legislative changes take time and there is no single silver bullet”.

It added: “In the meantime, we must take action to address the unacceptable costs of housing migrants in hotels which is costing the taxpayer around £8 million a day.”

Ministers have looked to provide cheaper alternative housing for migrants who are waiting for their asylum application to be processed, with barges, such as the Bibby Stockholm in Dorset, and former military sites converted into accommodation.

Shadow home secretary Ms Cooper said the new figures showed the Tories had “busted the Home Office budget”.

“This report illustrates the staggering costs of the Tories’ asylum chaos, with the taxpayer now spending an astronomical £8 million a day on hotels and the costs still going up and up,” she said in a statement.

“That is the price of the Conservatives’ utter failure to get a grip on this issue – now costing over £3 billion a year.

“Shockingly, the cost of hotel accommodation has gone up by a third since Rishi Sunak promised to end hotel use.

“The Tories have busted the Home Office budget, they’ve broken the asylum system, and the British people are paying the price.”

The accounts also showed that the director general of migration and borders, Emma Churchill, received a £15-20,000 bonus, on top of her £130-135,000 annual salary.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman deferred to the Home Office when asked whether the Government believes she deserved the bonus.

“It will be for individuals and for the departments and Border Force to justify if people are receiving high salaries,” he told reporters.

Pressed on whether Mr Sunak believes the department has done a good job of controlling UK borders, the official said: “I think the Border Force, the Home Office work hard to keep the people of the UK safe.

Rishi Sunak
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has insisted his Government’s efforts to ‘stop the boats’ are working (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Clearly we have a specific challenge around small boats which we are seeking to address.”

Mr Sunak has made stopping the boats crossing the English Channel one of his top five priorities ahead of a likely general election next year.

Since he entered 10 Downing Street, provisional figures suggest at least 31,000 asylum seekers have crossed the Channel, while almost 24,000 have arrived in 2023, Home Office statistics show.

Ms Cooper said Labour would end hotel use and stop the perilous migrant crossings by targeting the criminal gangs that are supporting human trafficking.

It comes after she and party leader Sir Keir Starmer used a trip to The Hague in the Netherlands to set out Labour’s plan for tackling irregular migration.

Sir Keir said he would focus on ensuring that an anti-terrorism-style international crackdown could smash the gangs behind the “vile” trade, preventing people leaving in small boats from France in the first place.

He also held the door open to striking a deal with the European Union in a move that would involve the UK taking a quota of asylum seekers who arrive in the bloc in exchange for the ability to return people who cross the English Channel.