EXCLUSIVE: Number of migrants in hotels hits 40,000 after Home Office emptied Manston processing centre
- ***EXCLUSIVE*** The total number of migrants housed in UK hotels hits 40,000
- All migrants who were at Manston processing centre in Kent have been removed
- Migrants are being placed in hotels due to a shortage of flats and social housing
- At the start of November it was costing £5.6m a day to put migrants in hotels
The number of migrants housed in hotels has hit 40,000 after the Home Office emptied the Manston processing centre, the Mail can reveal.
Sources said there were now a record number of migrants – most of whom arrived by small boat across the Channel – in hotel accommodation.
There were 37,000 migrants in hotels at a cost of £5.6million a day at the beginning of this month, when a processing backlog had also led to around 4,000 being held at Manston, in Kent.
Amid concerns over conditions at the site, the Home Office stepped up moves to transfer migrants from the former RAF station.
At least 3,000 extra hotel places have now been block-booked by the Home Office to house the transferred migrants.
The cost of the asylum system has soared to £2.1billion a year – from £500million a decade ago – mainly due to the cost of providing taxpayer-funded support for those arriving in the UK.
People stand inside a fenced off area inside the migrant processing centre in Manston, Kent, on November 7
The Manston processing centre, pictured here from the outside, has been emptied by the Home Office
Migrants are being placed in hotels due to a huge shortage of more economical options such as self-catering flats and social housing.
Earlier this month it emerged that foreign nurses studying for their UK qualifications are to be forced out of their hotel accommodation to make way for asylum seekers.
The nurses, hired by York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to help ease staffing pressures, were given less than a month to move out of their rooms by the Home Office.
It came after RNLI volunteers, training to save people from the seas, had to leave a hotel on the Wirral part-way through their stay to make way for asylum seekers.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick has said he wants to end the use of hotels and instead provide ‘basic but decent’ accommodation. It could see the construction of large complexes like those in Germany and Greece.
Last week one hotelier revealed he had rejected a £1million offer from the Home Office to house Channel migrants, saying it would have destroyed his business.
Manston is one of the main processing centres designed to hold migrants until more suitable accommodation can be found
Richard Martin, whose family have owned the Blazing Donkey country house hotel near Sandwich, Kent, for 30 years, said the government’s proposal was ‘farcical bordering on the offensive’, and would have involved making redundant most of his 25 staff.
‘I couldn’t think of anything more absurd,’ he said.
‘We spent 30 years building up the business but the money doesn’t come into it.
‘We didn’t consider the offer at all as our reputation would have been shattered overnight.
‘Quite honestly my wife and I felt repulsed and very angry that they would think I would ever consider it.’
The troubled Manston site has been dogged by controversies, including outbreaks of infectious diseases such as diphtheria and the stranding of a group of migrants in central London after their release.
All those in it have been moved to hotels and other accommodation, following a week in which no boat arrivals were recorded off the south coast.
Deteriorating conditions led staff to warn of a rise in violence, with migrants making blades out of tent parts, loo roll holders and broken bits from the wired fence.
The site, which was designed to hold 1,600 was found to be crammed with 4,000 migrants earlier this month as officials struggled to cope with record numbers of arrivals.
On Saturday a man who arrived in the UK on a small boat died after staying at Manston.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is now preparing to investigate the death after the Home Office referred itself to the police watchdog.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Staff across the Home Office have worked tirelessly under challenging circumstances to source alternative accommodation as quickly as possible for those who have been processed at Manston.
‘Thanks to their efforts, there are currently no people being accommodated on-site, and improvements continue to be made to the site to ensure it remains well-resourced to process migrants safely and securely.
‘The global migration crisis continues to place an unprecedented and unsustainable strain on our asylum system, which is why we remain focused on deterring illegal migration and disrupting the criminal gangs responsible for these dangerous crossings.’
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters today: ‘Manston by design is meant to be a temporary holding facility where people are processed before moving on – normally fairly quickly.
‘There were immediate challenges particularly after the attack at the other centre which caused numbers to spike so you would expect numbers to be relatively low on a daily basis a people are moved through quickly.’
Yesterday Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said the number of migrants at Manston stood at 300, following a high of more than 4,000.
The small boats crisis has dominated headlines over the past few weeks, with ministers under fire for overcrowding chaos at the holding centre in Kent.
Asylum seekers are meant to be at the site for only short periods of time while undergoing security and identity checks.
Some people have been held for longer stretches due to a lack of alternative accommodation, with concerns raised over poor conditions.
The man who died on Saturday is said to have arrived in the UK on November 12 and was taken straight to hospital.
But he was later discharged and taken to Manston, before becoming ill on Friday.
The man died after becoming ill at Manston immigration centre on Saturday morning
Refugee charities and the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper led calls for an investigation on Saturday evening.
A Home Office spokesperson said there was ‘no evidence at this stage to suggest that this tragic death was caused by an infectious disease’.
They added: ‘We take the safety and welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and provide 24/7 health facilities with trained medical staff at Manston.’
The news follows weeks of controversies around conditions at immigration centres in the UK, especially at Manston.
The immigration centre, designed to be stayed at for no more than 48 hours, is currently home to many vulnerable asylum seekers fleeing war or persecution, including women and children.
New figures obtained by the charity Refugee Council showed the scale of a huge backlog in asylum applications, including 155 children who have been waiting for an initial decision on their case for more than five years.
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