'Complete CHAOS': Labour slams Sunak's '£4.3bn asylum seeker overspend'

'Complete CHAOS': Labour slams Sunak's '£4.3bn asylum seeker overspend'

Lee Anderson says asylum seekers should NOT be placed in social accommodation as government spending goes through the roof

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 28/02/2024

- 20:53

Updated: 29/02/2024

- 17:19

The Shadow Home Secretary urged the government to ‘get a grip’ as the asylum crisis deepens

Labour have ripped into what they say is the government’s failure to clear the asylum backlog, publishing figures revealing the Home Office spent £4.3billion of taxpayer money on asylum hotels in the last 12 months alone.

The official 2023/24 budget for “asylum support, resettlement and accommodation” while asylum seekers were having their claims processed stood at £1bn – but inefficiencies in clearing the backlog have left system in “complete chaos”.

A Labour Party statement said: “The Home Office have bust the day-to-day budget for 2023/24 by almost £5.5 billion – over a third of its total planned expenditure for the year.

“Despite the Prime Minister committing to end the use of asylum hotels last year, the latest figures show at least 50,000 people in hotels and this latest data sets out the extortionate cost being paid by the British taxpayer.”

Rishi Sunak, James Cleverly, Yvette Cooper, Keir Starmer

Yvette Cooper laid the blame at Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary James Cleverly's door


Labour Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “This lays bare the complete chaos the Tories have created in the asylum system.

“They are spending billions on hotel rooms because of their failure to clear the backlog of asylum applications.

“Despite promises of action from the Prime Minister, they have not delivered and now the Home Secretary has been forced to go to the Chancellor with a begging bowl because he’s bust his budget by over £5 billion.

“Families across the country, struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, will rightly want to know why the Prime Minister and Home Secretary are spending millions of pounds every day on asylum accommodation, rather than getting a grip of the problems they’ve created by letting the backlog spiral out of control.


Migrants on a lifeboat

Labour's statement comes as small boat crossings continue to pose problems in the Channel


“Labour has set out a clear plan to save billions of pounds for the taxpayer by ending asylum hotel use, recruiting over 1,000 new case workers and 1,000 returns staff to fast track safe country cases, process asylum applications more swiftly, and return those who do not have a right to be here.”

The scathing attack by Labour follows an official Home Office request for an emergency payment of £2.6billion for asylum seekers’ hotel rooms after the total number in hotels crossed 50,000.

Cooper used the same rhetoric at the time, and criticised the Tories for “busting the budget” and “going for gimmicks rather than ever getting a grip”.

At the time, a Home Office spokesperson said: “Financial advances through contingencies funds are planned for each year to enable departments to deliver services with unpredictable final costs, such as the asylum system.

“This is a routine request and will enable the Home Office to continue to keep the public and the UK’s borders safe.”

The government says their plan is to phase asylum seekers out of hotels and into “safe and secure housing” – but attempts at introducing them into some areas, and the Home Office’s decision to set aside 16,000 homes, has sparked a significant backlash.

The Prime Minister has come under fire from across the political spectrum – this month, Reform leader Richard Tice called the government’s asylum seeker settlement policy as a “catastrophe of incompetence”.

A Home Office spokesperson told GB News: “The number of people arriving in the UK has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain.

“Tackling the issue of illegal migration requires bold, innovative solutions – our partnership with Rwanda offers just that.”

The statement rebuffed Labour digs at the multi-billion pound spend, and said: “Asylum support covers hotels, dispersed accommodation, alternative accommodation sites, and support payments.”

It continued: “We have stood up, and will continue standing up, alternative accommodation sites and vessels to accommodate asylum seekers – including vessels which have been used safely and successfully by Scottish and Dutch Governments, and former military sites.

“We met our pledge to clear the legacy asylum backlog by boosting efficiency, meeting our target to double the number of asylum caseworkers and tripling their productivity.”

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