More FAQs about Asylum Seekers in Long Eaton Hotels
Why are UK hotels being used for asylum seekers and not Britain’s own homeless people?
It is a government choice. But refugees and homeless people are not in competition.
The best way to tackle homelessness is to stop it happening in the first place. It is cost-effective – but more importantly, it is the right thing to do. This government must ensure people get the help they need when they need it most. This means providing enough funding for local councils and other relevant organisations to ensure that those at risk of homelessness can access support and legal protection. State institutions (eg prisons, care homes) also have a duty to prevent people from falling into homelessness when leaving their care.
Refugees and homeless people are both deserving of our help. Both groups are victims of the same hostility. They should be able to access help wherever and whenever they need it.
The money spent on asylum seekers is not from the same budget that would be used for the homeless people of Britain.
How is the government funding asylum seekers in hotels? Where does the money come from?
Simply put the money comes from the Home Office’s budget for overseas aid. This budget would never be used to fund more nurses or to help the homeless. It is a separate budget to fund aid for the most vulnerable in crisis around the world.
In 2022, the Home Office spent £3.7 billion of the UK’s aid 12.8 billion aid budget on housing asylum seekers in hotels.
Is money being wasted on housing asylum seekers in hotels?
There are so many asylum seekers in hotels because there is a huge backlog of asylum claims that the government is yet to process. If that backlog could be cleared, there would be no need for hotel accommodation.
British Future has proposed that for £60 million, the government could clear the asylum backlog they created (which means accepting/rejecting cases – just making decisions and allowing people to leave hotels and begin their lives).
How does the overseas aid budget compare to other budgets?
Asylum seekers in hotels - £3.5 billion
Other overseas aid - £7 billion
NHS - £180 billion
Police £15.9 billion
Defence - £45.9 billion
Welfare - £73.2 billion
Pension - £123 billion
Are people right to say that the money spent on asylum seekers could be used to help us with the cost-of-living crisis? Or spent on the NHS?
Not really because the money used for asylum seekers is from the overseas aid budget. If it were not spent on asylum seekers it would be spent on delivering aid overseas.
Domestic budget and now international aid funds spent on the asylum system are going to giant private companies, directors and shareholders. This is not in the public interest.
It could be used for good social housing in communities and invested into local services and charities that support refugees and local people.
Why do we have a duty to help people from other countries when we can’t afford our bills?
The political duty arises because the UK signed the UN Refugee Convention, along with 149 other countries. The amount we spend on overseas aid is tiny compared to the amount we spend on vulnerable British citizens. Also, although it might not feel like it, we are one of the richest countries in the world and we have a complex history of colonialism and taking from other nations to bolster our own position and wealth. So many may say we have a moral duty to help those in need. Finally, the most important reason is humanity. Remember, asylum seekers are not here looking for long-term charity. Most want to live their lives here, work, contribute and integrate.
Do asylum seekers have access to healthcare as soon as they get here?
Usually, they need to register with a GP first. This can be delayed if asylum seekers haven’t been given proof of their address, or ID cards. There can also be local delays to making agreements with NHS providers, leading to asylum seekers being advised to call ambulances for routine healthcare. Many asylum seekers find the NHS system confusing, hard to access, and can be billed for treatment. In theory, they are eligible for NHS help, but the practice looks different.
What is the long-term plan for the hotels? Will they return to hotels?
The government's stated intention is to close the hotels to asylum seekers, but there is no clear plan as to when.
Why have hotels allowed the government to take over their business? And how much money are corporations making from this? Is it just good business for friends of the government?
Hotels have been guaranteed a regular income at a time when Covid has put a huge strain on the hospitality industry.
Taking on a government contract which guarantees to fill most beds in a hotel throughout the year is likely to attract hotels which are struggling to attract enough regular business to stay solvent than hotels with a thriving business.
Are local authorities expected to provide wraparound care? How does it work?
In our experience, there is an expectation, but rarely extra funding, and so local authorities struggle to provide much at all, and most is provided by charities and voluntary organisations.
Who is consulted in the local area before government takes over a hotel?
We understand that local authorities are often informed shortly before a contract is taken on, but not consulted or given the opportunity to object. Local services were not informed in Long Eaton, schools weren’t told that asylum seekers would be moving into the area and there were no attempts to work with the existing community or the asylum seekers to help aid integration leading to even higher tension in the town.
Will an asylum seeker take my school place?
Asylum seekers join the waiting list just like anyone else. No priority is given.
Will an asylum seeker take work from me?
By law, asylum seekers are not allowed to be employed until they are granted refugee status, but may volunteer. An asylum seeker risks deportation if they accept paid work.
Whatever happened to Brexit and controlling our borders?
Brexit was a vote to leave the EU, not to withdraw from the UN Refugee Convention. It led to the UK withdrawing from EU agreements which allowed us to return asylum seekers to France and other EU countries
Why did the private companies make hotel staff redundant and bring in their own staff?
The Home Office wants oversight and control over the hotels. The companies contracted to oversee the occupancy often bring in their own staff.
It’s also useful to know that hotel star ratings refer to services. Once these companies take over the hotels, all existing services are withdrawn, rooms are stripped of any luxuries and food becomes basic. Hence staff being made redundant. It also ensures that companies contracted keep costs low and make large profits.
Why are they all young men “of fighting age”?
The trip to Europe is horrific and often deadly. The dangerous journey involves passing heavily patrolled borders, militias and crossing the Mediterranean on boats not fit for sea. The United Nations states that in 2022, around 3231 people died or were missing at sea. Many families send their strongest member to make the trip. Women and children are at high risk of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation on the route from a war zone to a safe country. Often men make the journey and hope that their wives and children can come to the UK safely with family reunion visas.
It’s also important to know that in many countries, men are most in danger. In conflict zones, men are targeted first and forced to join the army or militias. They are threatened with detention and torture.
Why is it only men in Long Eaton hotels? Where are the women and children?
The Home Office chooses to put men together in a hotel without women and children, sometimes separating them from their families. There are hotels for families in Derby and Loughborough.
Why are men hanging around in gangs?
Gangs is a misleading term. Men from the hotel are usually seen in pairs or groups of three or four. Sometimes if they want to go and play cricket or football on the park there may be a larger group. Often the men go out in small groups because they're afraid of local people and have been advised not to go out on their own due to threats of violence. Usually, they are just with another person to help them feel more secure in a new place where they might not speak the language.
We’ve seen men waiting outside the hotels. Are they being taken to work cash-in-hand jobs?
Not that we're aware of. We have picked people up at the hotels to take them to church, social events, or voluntary work in Nottingham or Derby, as it's a long way to walk.
Is it true that women, girls and children have been harassed and followed?
There have been no police reports but people should contact the police if this happens.
Do the asylum seekers get given a brand-new iPhone?
No. Some are given phones by charities or individuals, but they're usually second hand. Some fleeing political violence had good jobs and phones and took them with them. A phone is a vital lifeline for information, language translation, maps and keeping in touch with family. That’s why many choose to spend most of their weekly allowance on a phone.
Why are asylum seekers crossing other safe countries to get to the UK? Why don’t they stay in France or other EU countries?
Meet an asylum seeker and ask them why they came to the UK? Each story is different.
Some Ethiopians and Eritreans come to the UK because the EU doesn't understand the war they are fleeing from and the British Foreign Office is better at doing assessments. Persecuted Christians came because they believed Britain to be a Christian country. English speakers came because they knew English and did not want to spend additional years learning a new language. Afghan veterans came because they fought alongside the British Army. Others were vulnerable to criminal gangs and mafia elsewhere in Europe. There are as many reasons as people.
If their country is so dangerous, why did they leave their family there?
Asylum seekers have told us that escaping without your family does not mean you are selfish or there was no danger. Some had to leave their families behind because they were in immediate danger and it was not safe to travel across a dangerous country to fetch their family from far away before they had to flee for their life. Some were told to leave immediately or die. Some have no family because they were killed or don't know what has happened to them. Some came with their family but got separated at a dangerous border crossing, and have no way of knowing where they are.
Why aren’t these men staying at home and fighting for their country like British men did in the World Wars?
There are many reasons for this but it is worth reading about conflict in Afghanistan, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen to get a better understanding of what is going on. Many men have seen friends and family being attacked by the very armies they would be expected to join and fight for.
Why have they got designer clothes?
Most of the clothes that asylum seekers wear have been donated by charities. Asylum seekers in hotels get £9.10 a week.
Why have men been seen carrying sticks and bats?
Some of the men are keen cricketers and sometimes play in West Park by permission of the cricket clubs and park authorities.
Why are there men from Afghanistan in the hotel when the government set up a safe scheme for Afghan asylum seekers?
The Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) was launched in January 2022. The UK pledged to resettle 20,000 Afghans.
Pathway 2 is currently the only open route for resettlement for Afghans who are not already in the UK.
Under pathway 2 of the scheme, just 22 people, including 8 children have been resettled in the UK (figures as of April 2023
Pathway 3 was for those who worked for, or were affiliated with, the British government – including embassy staff and British Council teachers. Under P3, not a single person has been accepted or evacuated. Recently the UK denied a female Afghan judge plea to access safe passage to the UK under ARCS to escape the Taliban.
There is no properly functioning ACRS scheme and no credible legal route for Afghan nationals who are at risk to resettle here in the UK. This forced desperate Afghans to cross the channel.
Why are men going to Nottingham or Derby on the bus?
Often, they are visiting charities in Nottingham and Derby where they can find friendship, clothes and English classes – there are not enough of these for them in Long Eaton. Some volunteer with charities in Nottingham or Derby. Some might just be going for a change of scene. Unfortunately, one return trip to Nottingham or Derby costs most of their weekly income so they can’t go very often.
Do asylum seekers pay thousands of pounds to get here? Why not just get a flight?
There are no safe and legal routes to the UK for most asylum seekers. You can’t claim asylum in the UK until you are already in the country.
The cost people pay to get here varies depending on the distance, destination, level of difficulty and method of transport (air travel is more and requires fake documents).
People use any money they have and borrow and pool money from all their friends and relatives. Some take on debt to a third party or the smuggler and are often forced into exploitation to repay it. Debt bondage, sexual exploitation, modern slavery and torture are all common.
Why don't asylum seekers have ID documents?
There are many reasons why refugees may not have ID.
- Lost on a difficult journey, such as an overcrowded boat on rough seas
- It was not possible or safe to fetch ID from home during a war when they had to leave their country
- Stolen, as refugees are more vulnerable to crime
- Destroyed by conflict or disaster
- Confiscated by traffickers or smugglers during their journey
- Carried by a relative who got separated from them
- Never had any ID originally - Many refugees come from countries where civil registration and identity documentation doesn’t exist.
- Taken from them by Border Force on arrival to UK
Will the asylum seekers go back to their country if it's safe?
Many will. One local asylum seeker writes, "I hope one day my country will be free and I will welcome all English people in my country." But the circumstances which leave people to flee their homes make them very scared of going back. If the political situation changes it might take years before you can be sure it is safe and stable.
What is it about staying in a hotel which is not luxurious?
Local asylum seekers say that how people in the UK perceive life in hotels is not how it actually is. Misconceptions cause negative views from people in the UK. "We do not live in hotels because we are on holiday...there have been curfews that dictated what time you have to be at the hotel for...you have to eat at certain times or you will get nothing...it can feel like living in an open prison...having to share a room is difficult and there is no privacy."