‘Unprecedented backlog’ sees asylum seeker numbers triple in Croydon hotels

By Tara O’Connor, Local Democracy Reporter

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 in 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 yesterday, said asylum seekers had 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 – about 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 [Immigration and Asylum] 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 not 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.

Home Office spokesman 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 £5.6m 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 of next week.

Pictured top: Croydon Council offices, Bernard Weatherill House, Mint Walk (Picture: Croydon council)

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