Hotels for asylum seekers

The Home Office have informed us that they are using some of our hotels as accommodation for asylum seekers.

Please be mindful that the asylum seekers may have had a difficult experience before arriving here in North Somerset and may not understand English. We are a country known for our compassion and supporting others who are going through difficult times and we would be grateful for your patience and understanding at what will be a worrying and confusing time for these people.

We have put together a number of responses to some frequently asked questions to help increase your understanding of the situation. We will continue to update these as and when the situation changes.

Why have asylum seekers been placed in hotels?

The Home Office recently told us that they intended to use hotels in North Somerset as temporary and emergency response accommodation for asylum seekers. This is due to the number of boats that cross the English Channel continuing to rise. Hotels are being used across the country and not just in North Somerset.

This provision will be managed by Ready Homes, a Home Office contractor for the south-west.

Who makes the decision on where asylum seekers are placed?

The Home Office makes the decision on which properties are used and makes all arrangements. We were not involved in the decision and are not consulted about the choice of hotels or placement of asylum seekers in the area.

Are the council receiving any funding for this?

We will receive a small amount of funding from the Home Office for liaison and response co-ordination.

Will the hotel need to licence as a house in multiple occupation?

Our private rented housing team are aware of all hotels used by the Home Office for asylum seeker accommodation. They will advise on any licensing or other housing act requirements directly. Avon Fire and Rescue Service are also consulted.

Will the asylum seekers be single persons or families?

The council does not have this information, which it is held by the Home Office. The people who stay at the hotels is based on need and pressures within the asylum system and is a Home Office decision.  

How long will the asylum seekers remain in North Somerset?

We have been advised by the Home Office that the initial period the asylum seekers will stay for is three months, after which they will be moved to other accommodation in the asylum system as it is made available. This means that those staying in the hotels will change over time.  

Will they be given permanent housing in North Somerset?

After their stay in a hotel, the asylum seekers will be moved to other temporary dispersed accommodation provided by the Home Office while their claim for asylum is considered. This could be anywhere in the country.

This accommodation is not provided by us.

Will the asylum seekers have access to local health services?

Yes, they will be able to access local health services in the same way that any person visiting North Somerset on a temporary basis would. Our public health team are in discussions with local health providers to manage this.

Will school-age asylum seekers be placed in local schools?

Children placed in North Somerset will be given access to education. This could be through attendance at local schools and colleges or through other ways depending upon the needs of those placed here.

How will the safety of asylum seekers and the community be maintained?

On arrival, Ready Homes will give individuals an induction and provide guidance to them on their local community and what is expected of them while they are temporarily staying in North Somerset.   

Ready Homes are providing additional staff to ensure appropriate 24-hour, seven-days-a-week on-site security cover to ensure safety is maintained  

The police will deal with any reports or concerns as they would normally. We are working closely with Avon and Somerset police and other key agencies. The police have spoken to other areas who have accommodated asylum seekers and the feedback has been that there has been low levels of crime and disorder during their stay.  

If you have a crime to report, please contact the police in the usual ways by either calling 101 or using their online crime reporting form. Only call 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger or if the crime is happening right now.  

If you have any questions about the provision of the hotel, please contact the Home Office by emailing or calling 020 7035 4848.

How long will the asylum seekers have been in the country and where will they have come from?

We do not know this and the Home Office does not comment on individual cases.

Some of the asylum seekers may be newly arrived in the UK and others may have been in the UK for some time while awaiting a decision on their asylum claim.

The number of refugees and people seeking asylum varies depending on what is happening in the world. Conflict in several countries has swelled recent figures.

Approximately 0.2 per cent of the population are refugees or asylum seekers.

Most asylum seekers flee over their nearest border, where they are likely to live in camps. This can be seen in the case of Syria. Of the 6.7 million Syrian refugees globally, 4.6 million are being hosted by its neighbours Turkey and Lebanon.

Asylum seekers come from many parts of the world. Government statistics suggest that for the year ending September 2021, the highest numbers came from Iran, Eritrea, Albania, Iraq and Syria. The nationality of those residing at the hotels will therefore vary.

Can asylum seekers claim welfare benefits?

Asylum seekers are not able to claim welfare benefits, nor are they allowed to work.

Asylum seekers in hotel accommodation where food and some services are provided receive £8 per week from the government.

What gender are most asylum seekers?

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), women and girls make up about half of any asylum seeking, refugee or internally displaced population.

However, women and children may be left in refugee camps in neighbouring countries while the men leave the camp to take the risky and often deadly trip to another country.

Families that travel together in a big group have a harder time with the logistics. Women and children are also at much higher risk of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation by traffickers and organised criminal gangs on the route. Therefore, families may stay behind and wait until the men have applied for asylum and the rest of their family will then follow in a much safer way. This is often facilitated by the British Red Cross.

Why have the asylum seekers travelled to the UK?

Most asylum seekers stay in the first safe country they reach. In fact, 80% of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees are living in countries neighbouring their country of origin.  

The main reason why asylum seekers come to the UK is because they have family ties here. This covers more than 50% of cases. Other factors that people will take into account are more practical. For example, if you speak the language, you have more chance of being able to find a job and you can navigate every-day tasks like understanding public transport or going shopping.  

It is also not uncommon for asylum seekers to state their belief that the UK is a safe, tolerant and democratic country, and refer to previous links between their own country and the UK.  

There is no legal requirement for an asylum seeker to make their claim in any particular country.