Refugees minister in funding call for councils supporting migrants

Emma Roddick, MSP, warned of a need for 'urgent' council funding after plans to cut hotels housing refugees.

Scottish Government’s refugees minister in funding call for councils supporting migrants Getty Images

Scotland’s refugees minister has urged the UK Government to provide “urgent” funding to support local authorities as it progresses with plans to cut the number of hotels used to house refugees and migrants.

Emma Roddick welcomed the UK Government’s announcement of measures to cut the use of hotels to accommodate people seeking asylum and to tackle the backlog in asylum decisions.

However, she warned that it would be “completely unacceptable and reckless” if it were to shift a “significant burden” onto local authorities without providing financial support.

UK immigration minister Robert Jenrick earlier this week announced that the number of hotels used to house migrants will be cut by 50 over the next three months and said the process of “exiting” the first tranche of accommodation was to begin in the coming days.

Giving a statement to the Commons, he said the plans are possible because of “the progress we’ve made to stop the boats”.

In a letter to Mr Jenrick, Ms Roddick said: “The Scottish Government has long been clear in our view that hotels are not appropriate accommodation for people seeking asylum.

“While I welcome your recognition that the asylum decision backlog must be tackled, I want to make clear that it is completely unacceptable and reckless for the UK Government to shift a significant burden onto local authorities without providing financial support.

“The UK Government must provide funding to local authorities and work constructively with them to ensure that people receiving a positive asylum decision are supported to move on from asylum accommodation, without creating unmanageable pressure on housing and homelessness services over a short space of time.

“It is UK Government mismanagement of asylum decision-making which has created the backlog and the consequences of that cannot be passed to local authorities without any support to manage them.

“I request urgent provision of funding to local authorities to support move-on associated with the backlog clearance.”

Ms Roddick, Scotland’s migration and refugees minister, also requested further information about the hotel closure plans, including timescales for the closure of hotels in Scotland.

In March, the UK Government introduced plans to house asylum seekers on disused military bases and barges in a bid to cut spending on hotels, which has hit £8m a day.

That month, around 47,500 people were using hotel accommodation, according to the House of Commons Library.

Some migrants have been moved back on to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, after the discovery of Legionella bacteria in its water supply led to an evacuation in August.

A Home Office Spokesperson said: “Handing back the first 50 hotels across the UK to hoteliers will help to relieve pressures on local services and provide a boost to the local economy.

“The Home Office continues to work closely with accommodation providers and local authorities to manage the exit process in a way which limits the impact on partners and service users alike.

“While we offer ample support once asylum claims have been granted through Migrant Help, homelessness in Scotland is ultimately a devolved matter for the Scottish Government.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code