January 25, 2023 9.28 am This story is over 15 months old

MOD examines disused Lincolnshire services accommodation for Afghanistan refugees

Number of asylum seekers in county reaches close to 500 maximum peak

The Ministry of Defence has been looking for disused service accommodation in the county to house Afghanistan refugees while private landlords are being approached to house asylum seekers, a report confirms.

The document due before Lincolnshire County Councillors next week also shows that the number of asylum seekers housed in hotels in the county has regularly been close to the 500 person maximum occupancy in the last 12 months.

Seven hotels are currently being used to house asylum seekers in the county including five hotels in East Lindsey housing single, adult males –  two on a temporary basis known as ‘spot booking’, one hotel in South Kesteven housing women, children, and family groups and one hotel in Boston Borough housing single, adult males.

The MOD’s discussions are around Afghanistan refugees and regard “a small number of properties which may be suitable” said the report, however it noted there were concerns focusing on local education and health provision and access to services.

So far 36 individuals have been resettled in the county under the Afghan Resettlement scheme.

Serco, meanwhile, has been looking to lease properties from landlords, investors and agents, with those who give the company permission to sublet their properties being offered a five-year lease, no rental arrears, full repair and maintenance and more to sweeten the deal.

The report before the Public Protection Committee next Tuesday said: “The total number of service users housed fluctuates but the total maximum occupancy is approx. 500 individuals.

“Numbers have been close to this at various points in the last 12 months, particularly at times when the number of boats crossing The Channel had been high.”

Asylum seekers are not permitted to work in the UK while their claim is being considered and if they are destitute, they are provided with free accommodation, as well as asylum support set at £40.85 a week.

There are currently over 100,000 asylum claims in backlog awaiting a Home Office decision.

Some residents in Skegness have expressed outrage at the arrival of asylum seekers, accusing officials of turning the coast town into a “dumping ground” by taking advantage of the cheap hotel rates.

There were fears the move could put off visitors to the coastal town and damage the tourism economy.

Although LCC does not have a direct role in asylum dispersal the authority has been liaising with Serco, the Home Office and the relevant district councils to assure themselves of the safety and coordination of services for new arrivals to hotels in the county.

Councils do not currently get any extra funding to tackle asylum seekers dispersed into their area.

New rules going through parliament, however, which could see districts receive £3,500 wrap-around funding for every bed occupied. Though they would only be expected to take on 0.5% of their population (one per 200 residents).

This would mean around 525 individuals for Lincolnshire.

Elsewhere, nearly 1200 Ukrainian guests have arrived in Lincolnshire as at December 30, 2022. Of these, 971 individuals (of which a third are children) are still living in the County, 815 of whom are still with a host.

NOTE: This story originally referred to the Ministry of Defence looking for hotels for asylum seekers. This has since been corrected to Afghanistan refugees.