With a media that doesn’t hold back in printing anti-immigration stories designed to fan the flames of hatred, using the most inflated figures possible to report on asylum and refugee resettlement in the UK, comes as no surprise.

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“Taxpayers currently fork out £6.8 million a day to put up 35,000 people awaiting deportation,” stated an article in the Express on February 3. The same day, the Mail reported an even higher figure, claiming the “taxpayer is spending £7 million a day” on hotel accommodation for “people [who] crossed the channel illegally.”

Thanks to some digging by fact-checkers Full Fact, it has been revealed that the figures being reported in national newspapers, are not accurate. As the investigative reporters note, these claims ignore that around £1.2 million of this cost goes towards providing ‘bridging accommodation’ for Afghan refugees who arrived in the UK via legal resettlement schemes. ‘Bridging accommodation’ is defined by the government as “including all accommodation procured by the Home Office for the purpose of providing temporary accommodation for those brought over to the UK as a result of events in Afghanistan following the fall of Kabul in August 2021.”

“Bridging accommodation is not, and has never been, intended to be a permanent housing solution. Bridging accommodation is provided as a safe interim solution while we continue to work with our delivery partners to support families in becoming self-sufficient, and able to resettle in communities.”

During a Home Office Select Committee in October 2022, attendees heard that around £5.6million is spent on hotel accommodation for asylum seekers a day. This sum is not limited to asylum seekers who arrive to Britain by crossing the Channel, though that is the most common arrival route, by a long way.

An additional £1.2 million a day is spent on hotels used to house Afghans who have arrived in Britain under government resettlement schemes, Full Fact notes.

When contacted by the fact checkers for commentary, the Home Office confirmed that these figures are the most up to date.

“There are currently more than 45,500 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6 million a day,” said a Home Office spokesperson.

Though with a media that doesn’t hold back in printing anti-immigration stories designed to fan the flames of hatred, using the most inflated figures possible to report on asylum and refugee resettlement in the UK, comes as no surprise.

Regrettably, such inaccuracies get taken at face value and recirculated wide and far. One post of Facebook that alluded to the “£7 million a day to keep illegal immigrants in nice warm 4* hotels,” while the “NHS is at crisis point,” was picked up by the diligent folk at Full Fact, who marked it as “partly false information.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

Image credit: Creative Commons – Andrew Barron

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