Our response to the UK’s plans to house people in disused army accommodation and floating barges
Portacabins, army barracks and floating barges have all been proposed by the UK government as accommodation options for people currently stuck in hotel rooms across the country.
The truth is, none of these wildly inappropriate proposals will solve the issues with accommodating people seeking asylum.
The reality the government refuses to accept is that it has failed to invest in delivering a well-functioning, fair and efficient asylum system. That is what has led to today’s situation where over 170,000 people are stuck in limbo in hotel rooms living day-to-day, hand-to-mouth existences across the country.
With timely, effective decision-making, the people stuck in hotel rooms could be moving on with their lives. When people receive a positive decision on their claim for protection, they no longer require ‘asylum accommodation’. With refugee status, people can move into their own homes, earn a living and have a better chance of recovering from their experiences.
But the government refuses to run a well-functioning protection system. Instead, we are seeing the system being run into the ground. Decisions on people’s claims drag on for months and years. Resources are poured into the profits of private accommodation providers rather than local authorities and communities. Asylum is politicised and more and more headline-grabbing policies are announced every week.
We need a system that is fair, effective and efficient. That is the only thing that will reduce this ‘backlog’ of people currently in the system. Hotel rooms, boats, barges, army barracks are completely inappropriate for people who are fleeing violence and human rights abuses and who are here seeking safety after life-threatening journeys.
These types of large-scale, institutional accommodation arrangements are also inappropriate and problematic for local communities. None of these – barges, army barrack, portacabins – are the solution. They will not tackle the root cause which is poor management of the system itself.