The United Kingdom has a statutory obligation to provide destitute asylum seekers with temporary accommodation, transportation, and subsistence support while their application is being considered, until their claim is fully determined and they have exhausted their appeal rights. In addition, failed asylum seekers can receive support if they would otherwise be destitute and are unable to leave the UK for reasons beyond their control.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Home Office has had to house a number of asylum seekers in hotels as ‘Initial Accommodation’ in order to ensure they can comply with social distancing guidelines. This is a temporary measure which is under constant review by the Government, and the Home Office has asked local authorities to support efforts to procure sufficient ‘Dispersal Accommodation’ so people can be moved on from hotels quickly. Most asylum seekers are moved from ‘Initial Accommodation’ into longer-term accommodation within a few weeks.
All asylum seekers in this temporary accommodation have been given guidance in their own language relating to hygiene, washing hands, social distancing, coronavirus symptoms and what to do if they become symptomatic. As with the wider population, anyone in asylum accommodation with coronavirus symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days and facilities are provided to enable them to do so.
More broadly, I believe that the UK asylum system should be both rigorous and fair. Therefore, it is only right asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute are able to obtain support while the system considers the individual merits of their claims. While we must be vigilant to ensure our proud record of offering sanctuary to those who need it is not abused, we must also ensure that we grant protection to those in genuine need.
As for specific locations within Cheadle, the Home Office does not publish this kind of data. I will, however, pass on concerns which have been raised by constituents about the use of hotels to the Minister.