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While the government has been determined to reduce the use of hotels to accommodate asylum seekers, citing the high costs of doing so, it turns out that using former military bases and a barge is costing a lot more, according to Parliament’s spending watchdog.

Despite internal and external warnings that the government’s programme as planned could not be delivered, it decided to push ahead anyway, which has led to increased costs.

The Financial Times reported: “It would cost the government £1.2bn overall to deliver on its programme to reduce the use of hotels, after the Home Office overshot its original estimates on rehabilitating two sites by nearly eight times, a report by the National Audit Office found.”

The conversion of former UK military bases and a barge to accommodate asylum seekers has cost £46 million more than using hotels for the same purposes, according to the National Audit Office.

The government originally estimated the cost of rehabilitating two former military bases to house asylum seekers, RAF Wethersfield in Essex, and RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, at £5 million each.

However, expenditure has since increased to £49 million for Wethersfield and £29 million for Scampton.

The government had previously been embroiled in a legal challenge over its use of military bases to house asylum seekers, until the High Court ruled in December that its plans to use two former RAF stations to house thousands of asylum seekers can progress.

Charities have previously criticised the move to house asylum seekers in military bases. The Children’s Society’s policy and practice advisor Marieke Widmann said the charity was “deeply concerned that the government may look to house asylum seekers in military bases and vessels”. “It is an outrageous and inhumane way to treat children and vulnerable young people, many who have fled conflict in their home countries, experienced perilous journeys with the hope of safety and a better life

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

The post Using former UK military bases and a barge to house asylum seekers costs more than using hotels, spending watchdog says appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.

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