Date issued: 4 November 2022
Colchester Borough Council has this week expressed concern about the number of asylum seekers that have been arriving at Home Office designated hotels in Colchester.
The Home Office is sending further asylum seekers to hotels in Colchester this week. This situation does not just put pressure on already stretched Council services, it also impacts local health services and support organisations who work to ensure those accommodated at the hotels have access to the support and other health services they need.
This follows on from temporary Home Office hotel accommodation being provided for Afghanistan refugees in early October 2022 and the support the council has provided Ukrainian refugees under the Homes for Ukraine scheme since April 2022.
Cllr David King, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “Colchester is proud to be a place of sanctuary. We have a long history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers to our city-to-be. Again and again, we have proven that in times of crisis, Colchester is there to support families fleeing war and persecution.
“But I am angry at the Home Office's failings and that we face new arrivals when others do not, when many of our partner authorities across the UK are not called upon to do their bit. And when Colchester already has the highest number of Ukrainian refugees in the county, has the highest number of asylum seekers in dispersed accommodation in the region too. And has housed the largest number of refugee families in Essex.
“We understand the pressures of the asylum system and that they use hotels as a short-term solution; but we get no advance warning from the Home Office when asylum seekers are placed in hotel accommodation, and we should, and need to, get adequate time for planning to make sure the much-needed wrap-around support is in place for these families.
“Working with partners across the borough, we will do our best to provide the support that those who will be housed in the hotels or elsewhere in Colchester need, for their wellbeing, safety and security. And my thanks go to everyone involved in that effort.
“But I ask that the Home Office give us, and all authorities, sufficient notice, and better consult with councils prior to sending people to hotels. I also ask that they provide long term support to and recognise the pressures created for Colchester and help spread the challenge, so that other Districts take their fair share. Lastly, it is not enough to admit the Home Office's handling is not fit for purpose. They must fix their failings, come to asylum decisions faster, and in the interim make it easier for refugees to work in the UK, so that they can earn and find their way, not languish in hotels.”
Colchester Borough Council is unable to confirm any figures around the number of asylums seekers or the location of any hotel the Home Office is using as temporary accommodation, we ask that you contact the Home Office press team regarding this information.