Asylum seeker figures in Croydon hotels more than triples

The number of asylum seekers living in Croydon hotels has “ballooned” with figures more than tripling, according to a council report.

Figures from the authority show that for the past 15 months there have been between 900 and 1,200 people living in hotels while they wait for their asylum claim to be processed by the Home Office.

A council report, published on Monday (January 23), said asylum seekers have been placed in Croydon hotels for “many years”.

This was always around 200 people in three small hotels who would typically stay there for up to four weeks.

But the picture has dramatically changed in the past two years.

This means  around 1,000 people are now living in hotels in the borough each month, with some staying there for more than a year.

The report said: “Over the past two years the number of people placed in IA has ballooned.

“The reasons for this are varied but a key factor is the lack of flow through the asylum system meaning that people seeking asylum are waiting many months for a decision on their claim.

“This has caused an unprecedented backlog in the system leading to the rapid development of contingency initial accommodation.”

It adds that the hotels being used are not designed for people stay long-term and have no space for children to play or people to congregate.

Those waiting for their claim to be processed are no allowed to work and are given an allowance of £8.24 a week on a pre-paid card to use for clothes, medication and travel while their food is provided at the hotel.

Since November 2021, Croydon Council has offered school places to 200 children who are living in the hotels.

The report continued: “Whilst the council is not the commissioner or provider of the accommodation and services it does have statutory responsibilities for the safeguarding of children and adults living in the borough, for health protection and for environmental health and housing standards.”

Since April 2022, Croydon Council has been given £369,250 to support those housed in the borough.

It handed out £53,895 of this in grants to 11 organisations that can provide practical help and support to the hotel residents.

Home Office spokesperson said: “The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain.

“The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – there are currently more than 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6 million a day.

“The use of hotels is a temporary solution, and we are working hard with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation.”

The report is due to be discussed by the council’s Scrutiny and Overview Committee on Monday, January 30.

The meeting will take place at 6.30pm at Croydon Town Hall and will be streamed online.

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