Bid to extend transition period for asylum seekers granted right to remain agreed by West Berkshire Council
West Berkshire Council has agreed to lobby MPs and the government to extend the transition period for asylum seekers given leave to remain.
It said that successful asylum seekers are being forced to quit hotels within seven days rather than 28, in a cost-cutting move by the Home Office.
The government’s so-called move-on period for asylum seekers to find their own homes has resulted in increased demand for homelessness prevention services in West Berkshire, it said.
There are around 170 asylum seekers in hotels in West Berkshire.
Two asylum seekers were sleeping rough outside West Berkshire Council because the local authority has nowhere to home them – despite the pair now being granted permission to stay in the UK.
They have since moved on.
The Home Office has been using a hotel as accommodation for residents while their asylum applications are processed.
However, the Home Office has only given a short amount of time for these residents to leave the hotel in order to find alternative accommodation, the council said.
Some have been accommodated, but others have not been able to find suitable housing and have requested assistance from the council’s housing department.
“This is an unacceptably short period of transition,” said a motion put to the council at a meeting last Wednesday, which asked the district’s three MPs to lobby for an eight-week transition time.
The motion, submitted by Denise Gaines (Lib Dem, Hungerford and Kintbury), says there has been an escalation of homelessness in West Berkshire as a result.
“The Government has effectively abdicated the responsibility for asylum seekers granted leave to remain and passed responsibility to local authorities,” it said.
The council will write to the Home Secretary to request the Government extends the transition period to eight weeks and provides local authorities with emergency funding.
Leader of the opposition Ross Mackinnon (Con, Bradfield), however, said part of the motion is a “falsehood” and “a disgrace” that the motion says the Home Office has reduced the time to move on.
“This is wrong,” he said. “When an asylum seeker receives a letter with leave to remain they may start work and/or claim universal credit and have 28 days to leave the accommodation.
“But this administration was so keen to blame the government they have given untrue statements.
“We must have an apology and correction for false statements for misleading the public and causing reputational damage to the council.”
David Marsh (Green, Wash Common ) attacked the Conservative group leader for his comments.
“The disgrace is that we are having this debate with the backdrop of a Home Secretary who is quite deliberately stirring up a poisonous, hateful, damaging discourse and a deputy chairman of your party,” he said.
The council leader will draft a letter to MPs and the Home Secretary.