Government 'needs an extra £2bn every year to house migrants'

The Home Office will have to find an extra £2bn a year to house asylum seekers after the government said it can no longer use the foreign aid budget to pay for hotels, according to a watchdog.

Last year, the department spent £2.4bn of the budget on asylum costs, including £1.9bn on hotels for tens of thousands of migrants.

But under Rishi Sunak's Illegal Migration Act, the Home Office will no longer be able to divert foreign aid funds to cover asylum costs.

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), which scrutinises government spending, said the Act will: “Close off the main source of funding the government is using to house asylum seekers.”Accommodating asylum seekers is costing more than £6m a day and the number of migrants being housed in hotels has passed 50,000 for the first time, up from just 2,600 in March 2020.

There are now asylum hotels in 90% of 48 counties across the country.

Questions have already been asked of Rishi Sunak's pledge to house migrants in military barracks in his own constituency.

The prime minister had claimed he was “showing leadership” earlier this year by including the Catterick Garrison barracks in his constituency in North Yorkshire among sites being repurposed to take migrants.

However Sir Edward Leigh, the Conservative MP, ask in the Commons on Wednesday “Where’s the leadership in that?” after Home Office officials dropped the plans. 

On Tuesday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman unveiled the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill to detain Channel migrants, remove them from the UK within weeks to either their home country or a safe third country like Rwanda and ban them from ever returning.

Measures in the Bill are expected to cost £3bn a year with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt understood to have privately told the Home Secretary “money is no issue” in stopping the boats.