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Asylum: Military Bases

Question for Home Office

UIN 134467, tabled on 8 January 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether she has made an assessment of potential accommodation alternatives to housing asylum seekers in former army barracks.

Answered on

18 January 2021

Increased asylum intake, alongside measures taken to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, has meant that the Home Office has had to deal with growing demand for asylum support and accommodation services.

In recent months we have faced additional challenges which have required us in some instances to use contingency accommodation, including hotels, to fulfil or statutory obligations to house destitute asylum seekers whilst their claims are examined.

In order to reduce the use of such contingency accommodation we have been working closely with local authorities and devolved administrations to identify opportunities to increase the amount of dispersal accommodation available and to assist those that are no longer eligible for asylum support to ‘move-on’ from asylum accommodation. This has been handled through a calm, considered and phased approach.

Following a review of available government property, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) agreed to temporarily hand over two of their sites: the Penally Training Camp in Pembrokeshire and the Napier Barracks in Kent.

These sites were immediately available to be used to house asylum seekers and are safe, secure, habitable, fit for purpose and correctly equipped in line with existing contractual requirements for asylum accommodation.

An independent rapid review was also recently conducted to assure ourselves of the health and safety of asylum seekers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the recommendations from which are being reviewed and will be shared in due course. We will also hold round tables with stakeholders to discuss the recommendations, actions taken and proposed next steps.

It remains our intention to move all individuals in contingency accommodation into suitable dispersed accommodation as soon as reasonably practical, however our immediate priority is to ensure that we continue to meet our legal duty to house destitute asylum seekers and ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Answered by

Home Office