Asylum seekers will be sent to provincial towns and cities under new immigration rules as Priti Patel lifts councils’ veto power
- Priti Patel tries to stop local authorities from housing migrants
- Previously, town halls could insist that entire areas were unsuitable for migrants
- Now they can only object to specific streets and areas
- Designed to reduce the number of migrants held in hotels – currently 37,000
Thousands of asylum seekers will be sent to provincial towns and cities under new rules.
Interior Minister Priti Patel has to remove a veto from local authorities, allowing them to avoid housing asylum seekers.
Instead of insisting that entire areas are unsuitable for receiving migrants, town halls could only object to specific streets or neighborhoods.
The measure aims to reduce the number of migrants – including thousands arriving by small boat from northern France – who are being held on full board in hotels at taxpayers’ expense.
Currently, the Home Office has 37,000 people in hotels awaiting decisions on their migration status, costing taxpayers £4.7 million a day.
These include 9,500 Afghans who had worked for the British authorities and had to flee after the Taliban takeover last summer.
The Home Office believes the new rules will help to spread asylum seekers more evenly across the country, easing pressure on London and the South East.
Interior Minister Priti Patel (pictured) to override local authorities’ veto, allowing them to avoid housing asylum seekers in an effort to spread them more evenly across the country
A source said: ‘Under the old system, local authorities can raise a ‘flag’ meaning asylum seekers cannot be dispersed to their area. But under the new system, that cannot happen. The local authorities should be involved unless there are very specific problems about a particular area.
“That could be a particular street or neighborhood, but not a huge area or an entire city.”
According to proposals made by the Interior Ministry earlier this year, local authorities are not expected to host more than one asylum seeker for every 200 local residents.
Immigration Secretary Kevin Foster wrote to all municipalities in April that the system was exerting “unsustainable pressure on a limited number of local authorities.”
The Home Office currently has 37,000 people in hotels awaiting decisions on their migration status, costing taxpayers £4.7 million a day
He emphasized the number of migrants in hotels, writing: ‘This is not acceptable; it is not fair to taxpayers and does not provide the right solution for communities or asylum seekers.’
700% increase in student visas for Nigerians
The number of Nigerian students coming to Britain has increased by 686 percent in less than three years.
In 2019, 8,384 students came from the West African nation, but in the 12 months to June this year, it was 65,929.
Indians have overtaken Chinese to become the largest student group, with just under 118,000 visas issued for sponsored study, a 215 percent increase from 2019. There was also a massive increase in Pakistani students – a 377 percent increase to 23,490.
The total number of student visas granted in the year to June was just under 487,000, an increase of 71 percent from 2019.
Through a ‘graduate visa route’ launched last year, foreign students can now live and work in this country for up to two years after graduation.
If they later find a qualifying job, they can also transfer to a skilled worker visa, a possible path to citizenship.
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said the plan had made the UK more attractive to Nigerians.
A source from the Home Office said it was up to universities to decide how many international students they sponsor.
Instead, the Home Office will “find dispersed properties within the private rental sector in all local government areas in England, Scotland and Wales,” the minister wrote.
The veto ban is the first detail of how the new regime might work. There were more than 55,000 asylum applications in the 12 months to the end of March – just 1,649 asylum seekers were resettled to longer-term homes in the UK during the same period. Yorkshire and the Humber took the most, with 374, while only 48 went to Wales. Scotland took 204.
London and the South East took 260, but individually accommodate most of the migrants in hotels. The new measures are expected to come into effect in the middle of next month.
It came after new figures showed asylum applications have reached the highest level in nearly 20 years, with 63,089 applications in the year to June. Including next of kin, the claims involved more than 75,000 people.
The increase has been caused by huge numbers of arrivals in small boats across the Channel, of whom 94 percent are seeking asylum. The latest figures from the Ministry of Defense show that 804 migrants arrived from northern France on Thursday, bringing the total for the year so far to 24,090.
At the current pace, the record tally of 28,526 in 2021 is likely to be broken in one to two weeks.
Yesterday, the Mail reported that the annual cost of Britain’s asylum system has risen by 56 percent – £756 million – to £2.1 billion in 2021-2022. The huge bill is largely caused by the rising number of asylum seekers receiving taxpayer-funded aid, including housing. At the end of June, more than 116,000 handouts were distributed, a 37 percent increase in three months.
The Interior Ministry denied last night that the rules governing the dispersal of asylum seekers will be changed in September, adding: “There is nothing to prevent local authorities from housing needy asylum seekers.”