Sharp rise in number of asylum seekers needing help for homelessness in England

The number of asylum seekers needing help for homelessness in England after having been in supported accommodation has jumped sharply in a year.

Official figures published on Tuesday showed the number owed what is known as a relief duty to be 4,150 as of the end of December 2023 – almost five times the 900 figure from the same point a year before.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents local councils, said the Government’s plans to continue to close asylum hotels meant people were having to turn to councils for support instead.

Statistics on homelessness, published by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, showed that the figure had more than doubled between the third and fourth quarters of last year.

There were 1,870 households in the period from July to September who were owed a relief duty from local authorities for help as they faced homelessness.

This rose to 4,150 for the period October to December.

A spokesperson for the LGA said a “better system for supporting asylum seekers to find permanent homes” was needed.

“Shortages of available and affordable housing mean that those leaving asylum accommodation will struggle to find homes to move on to.

“People receiving certainty on their claim is a positive step, and we want to work with government on developing a better system for supporting asylum seekers to find permanent homes.

“This requires a national, regional and local approach to solving pressing housing needs across all schemes that welcome new arrivals to the UK.

The Government announced earlier this month that some 150 migrant hotels would have closed by May, with Home Secretary James Cleverly saying the process would continue “until the last hotel is closed”.

The Home Office spent around £8 million a day last year for tens of thousands of asylum seekers to be put up in hotels while the introduction of alternative housing plans faced a series of setbacks.

Whitehall’s spending watchdog has found that Government plans for other accommodation will cost tens of millions of pounds more than using hotels.

Josephine Whitaker-Yilmaz, the policy and public affairs manager at Praxis, said: “This eye-watering increase in homelessness is an entirely predictable result of Government policy.

“Evidence clearly shows that 28 days – or even seven – is not long enough for anyone to find a new home, especially people who have often been forced to wait for years for the Home Office to process their case.

“If this Government really wants to put an end to homelessness, it should extend move-on periods to 56 days, and cease evicting people on to the streets.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Once a newly recognised refugee is issued a biometric residence permit, they get 28 days to move on from asylum accommodation.

“Support is also available through Migrant Help and their partners, which includes advice on how to access Universal Credit, the labour market and where to get assistance with housing.

“We are working to make sure individuals have the support they need following an asylum decision, and to help local authorities better plan as we reduce the number of asylum seekers awaiting a decision.”

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –