The British government will ask small towns and rural areas to house more asylum seekers who travel illegally across the English Channel, Minister for Immigration Robert Jenrick has said.
Jonathan Gullis, a Tory MP from Stoke-on-Trent in western England, told Jenrick in Parliament on Wednesday that asylum seekers are being “dumped” in hotels in his constituency by the private contractor Serco.
“When is the minister going to tell Serco Stoke-on-Trent has done its bit and to no more use it? And if he won’t, why won’t he?” Gullis asked.
Jenrick replied that the government was “attempting to procure accommodation in a much broader range of local authorities.”
“Historically, the issue was centered on cities including Stoke-on-Trent. We are now seeking to procure accommodation more broadly in smaller cities, towns and indeed in some cases in rural areas,” the minister said.
“That does mean, I am afraid, that as long as numbers are so high that more parts of the country experience this issue – but it does ensure greater fairness as to how, as a country, we tackle it.”
According to The Telegraph, half of the 120,000 asylum seekers are housed in just 25 local communities, which is about 6% of the 374 councils in England and Wales.
Britain agreed on Monday to pay France £63 million ($74.7 million) this year to enhance security at the country’s ports in order to reduce illegal crossings of the English Channel by boat. This has been the route for entering the UK used by more than 40,000 people this year alone, according to the government.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he is confident that the deal with France will reduce the number of migrants.
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