Housing refugees in Doncaster hotel could end as Government vows to stop scheme

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Housing refugees in a Doncaster hotel could end as the Government announced it will start closing migrant hotels within days.

The Danum Hotel in Doncaster city centre has been housing refugees from Afghanistan – mostly young women and children – since November 2021.

But the Government says fifty hotels will be closed to asylum seekers by January and closures will "not stop there", immigration minister Robert Jenrick has told MPs.

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He said hotel contracts would end in "all four nations of the UK" in the coming months as his plan to cut asylum claims was "starting to work".

The Danum Hotel has been used to house refugees from Afghanistan since November 2021.The Danum Hotel has been used to house refugees from Afghanistan since November 2021.
The Danum Hotel has been used to house refugees from Afghanistan since November 2021.

About 400 hotels were being used to house record numbers of asylum seekers.

The hotel contracts cost the taxpayer £8m a day, which Mr Jenrick said was "unacceptable" and "unsustainable".

Labour's shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock dismissed the minister's announcement, saying he was only planning to close a "paltry" 12% of hotels currently in use.

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"He is like an arsonist who has burnt our house down and expects us to thank him for throwing a bucket of water on it," Mr Kinnock told MPs.

In a statement to Parliament, Mr Jenrick said agreements with France and Albania along with stricter penalties for those connected to illegal migration had helped reduce the numbers arriving in small boats, enabling the government to start ending the use of asylum hotels.

He also said a push to increase room-sharing in hotels and accommodating asylum seekers in disused military sites had freed up space.

He added the government would continue to house people on the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland. The vessel, which has a capacity of 500, is currently holding 50 people.

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The Home Office has an obligation to house asylum seekers, who would otherwise be destitute, whilst their claim is being processed.

In August, the number of asylum seekers having their application processed reached a record high of 175,000 people.

At the end of June 2023 there were 50,546 asylum seekers living in hotels in the UK.

This is a 10% increase compared with the end of 2022, when there were 45,775 people living in hotels.

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Between April 2022 and March 2023, the government spent about £2.3bn on hotel accommodation

The government has not published a list of all the hotels set to close.

The Danum in Doncaster has been used to house young women and children, including a team of female footballers from Afghanistan.

The High Street hotel has been used since November 2021 then and while it is understood that some refugees have settled into new homes in Doncaster, many are still looking for permanent accommodation two years on from fleeing the terror in their home country.

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Doncaster’s intake included a group of junior female footballers who dramatically escaped from the Taliban and who felt ‘newly born’ after arriving in the UK and relaunching their love for the game in Doncaster.

Players from the country’s women’s development team revealed how they faced beatings, death threats, bomb blasts and were scared for their futures after the murderous regime returned to power in the Middle Eastern state.

The women relaunched their football careers in the UK and, training at various locations across Doncaster.