Fifty migrant hotels will reopen to the public within months

Fifty migrant hotels will reopen to the public: Government to end contracts within months as minister Robert Jenrick says eyewateringly expensive scheme for small boat arrivals is ‘one of the most damaging manifestations’ of the migrant crisis

  • EXCLUSIVE: Small boat migrants will not be housed in 4-star hotels anymore
  • Government trying to slash costs for migrant accommodation ahead of election

Ministers today pulled the first plug on use of eye-wateringly expensive hotels to house small boat migrants today.

Robert Jenrick told MPs that the first 50 contracts for accommodation would be ‘exited’ by the end of January with a focus on putting them up in cheaper locations like motels, former military bases and floating barges.

The scheme which saw thousands of arrivals housed in hotels was widely criticised over the exorbitant cost – several million pounds per day – and perceived impacts on social cohesion and interaction with locals.

In a statement to MPs Mr Jenrick, the Immigration Minister said it was important the hotels went back to being ‘assets for the local community. It is understood that the most lavish hotels being used will be the first to go.

He said that officials had already cut the number of hotels required by 72, thanks to making arrivals share rooms. 

In August more than 50,000 Channel migrants were in 400 hotels at a cost of £8million a day. 

The Government is trying to turn around public opinion in key election battlegrounds and it is hoped the move will save hundreds of millions of pounds a year. It hopes to end a further 50 contracts before April.

But Labour said the first 50 closures amounted to just 12 per cent of the total in use, with shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock branding the cut ‘paltry’. 

Robert Jenrick told MPs that the first 50 contracts for accommodation would be ‘exited’ by the end of January with a focus on putting them up in cheaper locations like motels, former military bases and floating barges.

Grand: The Grosvenor Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

Imposing: Former hunting lodge Scalford Country House in Leicestershire

Stately: Former mansion Stoke Rochford Halln in Lincolnshire was said to charge hotel guests £400 a night

‘The first 50 of these exits will begin in the coming days and will be complete by the end of January with more tranches to follow shortly but we will not stop there,’ Mr Jenrick said.

‘We will continue to deliver on our strategy to stop the boats and we will be able to exit more hotels. And as we exit these hotels, we are putting in place dedicated resource to facilitate the orderly and effective management of this process and limit the impact on local communities.’

‘We are getting the most egregious examples of luxurious hotels off our books first,’ a government source said. ‘The country manor houses and the stately home-style properties will be the first to go.

‘We’ve been very clear that we can’t let this drag on any more. It’s been a complete disgrace.’

Mr Kinnock labelled it ‘Tory boats chaos’ as he accused Mr Jenrick of having the ‘brass neck’ to announce a planned reduction in the use of hotels.

‘Is that really it? Is that really the ambition? That there will still be 350 asylum hotels in use at the end of the winter despite promises last year they would end hotel use this year,’ he said.

Conservative former minister Sir Conor Burns said there are ‘multiple hotels’ housing migrants in his Bournemouth West constituency, saying he welcomed the announcement that one would be ‘taken back’, but added: ‘When can we have the rest of our hotels back?’

Mr Jenrick said: ‘As we make more progress in stopping the boats, we will make more progress in closing the hotels.’

Last year the Mail reported how migrants were housed at ‘Downton Abbey-style’ four-star Stoke Rochford Hall, near Grantham in Lincolnshire. It has previously been advertised as a luxury Victorian country mansion.

During a parliamentary debate Sir Edward Leigh, a Conservative MP in the county, said the hotel normally charged £400 a night, and described its use by the Home Office as a ‘farce’.

The picturesque Grosvenor Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, was also taken over for families of asylum seekers, along with Scalford Country House Hotel in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire – once the hunting lodge of the founder of the Colman’s mustard firm.

Scores of couples have been left heartbroken as hotels cancelled their weddings to take small boat migrants instead.

One Afghan who was put up in a luxury four-star hotel in September said he felt ‘like a king’. Amir Khan, 20, ended up at the Macdonald Kilhey Court set in ten acres of stunning grounds near Wigan, along with more than 100 other migrants.

Meanwhile, ministers are understood to believe they have finally turned a corner on the number of migrants crossing the Channel, nearly five years after the crisis began. So far this year 26,168 have reached the UK by small boat, down 30 per cent on the same point in 2022.

Home Office studies are providing growing evidence that the decline is not simply down to choppy conditions in the English Channel.

A source said: ‘We are getting an increasingly clearer picture that it’s down to reduced demand [for illegal crossings].’

A group of people thought to be migrants crossing the Channel in a small boat traveling from the coast of France and heading in the direction of Dover, Kent on August 29

Among the 100 hotels which will stop housing migrants include some in Wigan and Stoke-on-Trent in a bid to lure back voters in election battlegrounds, The Times reported. A requirement for migrants to share rooms has been a key factor in the Home Office being able to slash the number of properties it is block-booking.

In addition, the accommodation barge Bibby Stockholm has finally reopened after legionella bacteria was found in its water system during the summer.

Ministers are determined to make sure the barge, berthed at Portland in Dorset, receives its full complement of 506, it is understood, despite previous concerns from the local council and the fire brigade.

Dozens of migrants arrived at Dover yesterday, including women and children, after no crossings for six days due to windy conditions amid Storm Babet.

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