Concerns raised over plans to force asylum seekers to share hotel rooms

The Home Office policy could see numbers rise from 220 to 300 at hotels in Renfrewshire.

Councillors raise concerns over asylum seekers forced to share hotel rooms in Paisley iStock

Concerns have been raised about the prospect of asylum seekers being told to share rooms in a Paisley hotel.

The policy could increase the number of asylum seeking adults living in Renfrewshire hotels from 220 to 300 people, a report has said.

The Home Office confirmed it isn’t optional but said families won’t be expected to share with other families and single males or females.

However, the move – which applies to the Watermill Hotel – was questioned by elected members at Wednesday’s leadership board.

It comes as the Muthu Glasgow River Hotel in Erskine, which has been the subject of weekly protests and counter-protests for months, reaches its initial capacity of 174.

Councillor Iain McMillan, Labour group leader, said: “I know there’s still ongoing issues over in Erskine unfortunately and I know that the hotel is reaching its capacity.

“Along the road here in Paisley, there’s the issue of maybe some of the people in the Watermill having to double up in terms of sharing rooms.

“That really does concern me. I wouldn’t like to share a room with anybody – never mind somebody that I don’t know, maybe somebody that comes from a different culture.

“I just think that’s absolutely shocking, that we can ask people [to do that].

“Now, some people might be absolutely suitable and they might be quite happy with it, but for other people it might be an absolutely awful idea.

“I’m really, really concerned about that.”

The board report explained: “The council recently received notification that due to pressures in the asylum system nationally, the Home Office would be seeking to maximise the use of all procured contingency hotel accommodation in Scotland.

“This includes implementing a policy of room sharing in hotel accommodation in Paisley.

“The total impact of these changes could potentially increase the number of asylum seeking adults living in local contingency hotel accommodation from 220 to 300 people.

“In terms of the hotel in Erskine, a review is being undertaken by the Home Office to consider the impact on local services of the hotel accommodation, now that the initial capacity of 174 has been reached.”

Laura McIntyre, the council’s head of policy and partnerships, said: “There are a number of changes obviously that we have highlighted within the report in relation to maximisation of all of the accommodation available, including room sharing.

“A number of the concerns that you have, they have been formally represented to the Home Office from officers and partners.

“Critically, it’s the pace at which this is happening as well, which doesn’t give the community and health resources time to catch up and make sure that people can be registered with a GP, as opposed to presenting at accident and emergency.

“We have really great community groups and organisations that do want to provide support to people coming to Renfrewshire through these means, but essentially it’s just the timing of that makes it more challenging.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Despite the number of people arriving in the UK reaching record levels, we continue to provide accommodation for asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute to meet our legal obligation.

“To reduce hotel use, asylum seekers will routinely share rooms with at least one person where appropriate.

“This will minimise the impact on communities while we stand up alternative sites.”

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