Refugees and asylum seekers in Shropshire - FAQs
Why have the asylum seekers been placed in hotel accommodation in Shropshire?
To date, the Home Office is using one hotel in Shropshire as temporary accommodation. This is due to the number of boats that cross the English Channel continuing to rise, and the use of hotels is happening across the country and not just in Shropshire
This provision is managed by Serco, a Home Office contractor.
Was the council asked if hotels could be used for this, and will other hotels in Shropshire be used?
No. The Home Office makes this decision and Shropshire Council has no involvement in this.
Is the council receiving any funding for this?
No, the council doesn't receive funding for those staying at the hotel. This may lead to greater pressure on council services, such as health support and education.
Doesn’t a hotel need to change its use to house asylum seekers through a planning or licensing application?
We want to help ensure that everyone involved in accommodating asylum seekers in Shropshire is doing so correctly and complying with agreed standards, and that when individuals are accommodated this happens in as safe and well managed way as possible for everyone involved. We'll be seeking confirmation from any hotel accommodating asylum seekers, and the Home Office’s contractors, that any planning or licensing requirements are met, and giving appropriate advice on these and then reviewing if any further action is required, as would apply to any county business wanting to provide a similar service.
Has the council been consulted about where any asylum seekers are placed in Shropshire?
No. The locations chosen is a decision taken by the Home Office.
Will the people being accommodated be single people or families?
This is a decision made by the Home Office and their contractors. The initial arrivals in Shropshire are single males, however this may change with any new arrivals.
How long will the asylum seekers remain in Shropshire?
People will be moved out as other accommodation in the asylum system is made available to them. This means that the people staying in a hotel will change over time.
Will they be given permanent housing in Shropshire?
After a hotel, they'll be moved on to other temporary dispersed accommodation provided by central government whilst their claim for asylum is considered. This could be anywhere in the country.
Will the people have access to local health services?
Yes, they'll be able to access local health services in the same way as any person visiting Shropshire on a temporary basis would have. Our Public Health team are in discussions with local health providers to manage this.
Will school-age asylum seekers be placed in local schools?
If children are placed in Shropshire they would be given access to education. This could be through attendance at local schools and colleges or through other ways, depending upon the needs of those placed here.
What additional security has been put in place?
The Home Office’s contractor Serco is providing additional staff to ensure appropriate 24/7 on-site security cover.
How long will the asylum seekers have been in the country and where will they have come from?
We don't know this, and the Home Office doesn't comment on individual cases.
Some of the asylum seekers may be newly arrived in the UK and others may have been here for some time whilst awaiting a decision on their asylum claim.
The number of refugees and people seeking asylum goes up and down, depending on what is happening in the world. Conflict in several countries has swelled recent figures, for example. However, the UK has not been ‘flooded’ by those looking for safety. In fact, only 0.2 per cent of the population are refugees or asylum seekers.
Most asylum seekers flee over their nearest border, where they are likely to live in camps. This can be seen in the case of Syria. Of the 6.7 million Syrian refugees globally, a staggering 4.6 million are being hosted by its neighbours – Turkey and Lebanon.
Asylum seekers come from many parts of the world. Government statistics suggest that for the year ending September 2021 the highest numbers came from Iran, Eritrea, Albania, Iraq and Syria. The nationality of those residing at the hotel will therefore vary.
Can asylum seekers claim welfare benefits?
- Asylum seekers aren't able to claim welfare benefits, nor are they allowed to work
- Asylum seekers in hotel accommodation where food and some services are provided currently receive £8 per week
Why are most asylum seekers male?
They aren't. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), women and girls make up about half of any asylum seeking, refugee or internally displaced population. However, women and children may be left in refugee camps in neighbouring countries while the men leave the camp to take the risky and often deadly trip to another country.
Families that travel together in a big group have a harder time with the logistics. Women and children are also at much higher risk of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation by traffickers and organised criminal gangs on the route. Therefore, families may stay behind and wait until the men have applied for asylum, and the rest of their family will then follow in a much safer way. This is often facilitated by the British Red Cross.
Why don’t asylum seekers stay in the first safe country?
Most do stay in the first safe country. 80% of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees are living in countries neighbouring their country of origin.
The number one reason that asylum seekers give for continuing their journey to the UK is that they have family ties here. This covers over 50% of cases. Other factors that people will take into account are more practical. For example, if you speak the language you have more chance of being able to find a job, and you can navigate everyday tasks like understanding public transport or going shopping.
It's also not uncommon for asylum seekers to state their belief that the UK is a safe, tolerant and democratic country, and refer to previous links between their own country and the UK.
There's no legal requirement for an asylum seeker to make their claim in any particular country.
What about bogus/illegal asylum seekers?
There's no such thing as an ‘illegal’ or ‘bogus’ asylum seeker.
Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country that has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and to remain there until the authorities have assessed their claim.
It is a legal process.