UK Government Plans to House Migrants on Giant Barges to Cut £3.5 Billion Hotel Bill
The UK government is set to house migrants on giant barges as part of a plan to reduce the country’s £3.5 billion bill for housing asylum seekers in hotels. The plan, which was first proposed by Rishi Sunak during the Conservative leadership race, has been criticized by Liz Truss’s campaign for breaching the Human Rights Act.
Home Office sources have warned that the use of cruise ships to house asylum seekers could also be illegal under human rights law. However, the government is planning to unveil a fleet of barges, each holding container cabins for hundreds of migrants. The vessels will be docked at various ports across the country.
The decision to use barges comes after growing anger from Conservative backbench MPs over the use of hotels in their constituencies to house asylum seekers. The government is also considering using a disused cruise ship from Indonesia, which would be moored in southwest England.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick is expected to make an announcement on Wednesday about asylum accommodation. It is rumored that he will use a clause in the levelling up bill to force councils to accept large numbers of asylum seekers.
The cost of accommodating asylum seekers in hotels is estimated to be around £6 million per day and totaled £3.5 billion last year. The use of hotels as temporary housing has been a source of tension, with some MPs criticizing the scheme as unfair to their constituents.
The plan to house asylum seekers on barges is not without its critics. Human rights groups have previously criticized the use of cruise ships to house migrants, citing concerns over arbitrary detention and breaches of international law.
The use of barges to house asylum seekers is just one of several proposals being considered by the government. Other plans include using disused holiday parks and former student halls as alternative accommodation.
The government’s search for alternative housing comes amid a growing debate over the UK’s asylum system. With record numbers of people seeking asylum in the country, the government is under pressure to find a more sustainable and cost-effective solution.
In a statement, a Government spokesperson said: “We have always been upfront about the unprecedented pressure being placed on our asylum system, brought about by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal journeys into the country.
“We continue to work across government and with local authorities to identify a range of accommodation options.
“The Government remains committed to engaging with local authorities and key stakeholders as part of this process.”