Thousands of asylum seekers fear they could lose their Home Office hotel accommodation because some owners want to offer rooms to tourists and other travellers.

One letter sent to a group of asylum seekers being accommodated by the Home Office in a hotel close to central London states: “Dear guests, we would like to kindly inform you that your accommodation with us is going to end on 31 January (2022). We advise you to get in touch with your local council for alternative accommodation.”

The accommodation is managed for the Home Office by Clearsprings. Their subcontractors intervened after the eviction letter was circulated to the asylum seekers and sent a second letter stating: “Under the law (hotel owners) cannot ask you to leave the premises forcefully. Please note that if for any reason your entry card is cancelled and you cannot gain access to your apartment please call the police immediately as this will be classed as an illegal eviction.”

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is supporting asylum seekers in this accommodation who received the letter. They say they are vulnerable and include a mother with a newborn baby and a survivor of domestic violence.

Minnie Rahman, the campaigns director for JCWI, said: “Nobody should have to fear they’ll be kicked out on to the streets on a cold winter’s night.”

She said the number of eviction threats were increasing. “Our lawyers have been on the phone to young mums and families who’ve been terrified they were going to end up homeless, and unfortunately we know these kinds of threats are widespread. The Home Office needs to be granting people who’ve sought safety here decent, stable accommodation so they can rebuild their lives.”

JCWI started a legal action against the Home Office following the threat to evict from the hotel close to central London. In its response, the Home Office confirmed that the asylum seekers were entitled to accommodation but that no suitable alternative to the hotel had yet been found.

The charity Asylum Matters said it had received information that some hotel owners wanted to reopen their hotels for paying guests for this year’s summer season, now that Covid travel restrictions are being lifted, but that issues of lack of communication between hotels and asylum seekers were “rife”.

The charity produced a report in December 2021 – In a Place Like a Prison – documenting asylum seekers’ bad experiences in hotels and other accommodation such as army barracks. It warned that the accommodation centres the Home Office planned to use in future to at least partially replace hotels would be akin to “large prison-like refugee camps in the UK”.

The Home Office is facing record backlogs in processing asylum claims with more than 80,000 awaiting the outcome. This means that movement out of traditional asylum seeker accommodation in shared houses and flats is slower.

Meanwhile, Visit Britain is predicting a significant boost in tourist visits this year. London hotels have reported a surge in tourist bookings as Covid travel restrictions ease and levels of the virus drop.

The Home Office said recently that it had been spending £4.7m a day on hotel accommodation for 12,000 Afghans being resettled in the UK and 25,000 asylum seekers.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The letters were sent to a small number of people in one accommodation site in error and without approval from the Home Office. We are liaising with Clearsprings to make sure this does not happen again.

“The use of hotels is only ever a short-term solution and we are working with local authorities to find appropriate long term accommodation across the United Kingdom.”

Clearsprings has been approached for comment.


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