The Leader of Wakefield Council, Cllr Denise Jeffery, has expressed her outrage at the recent decision by the Home Office to bring additional unsupported asylum seekers into the district. Despite months of silence from the Government, the decision is set to be implemented within days, much to the dismay of local officials.
Cllr Jeffery has been tirelessly lobbying the Home Office since March, urging them to reconsider their scattergun and unsustainable approach. She emphasised the need for quicker decision-making on asylum cases and the establishment of a proper support system that treats asylum seekers humanely, rather than placing blame on them for the failures of the system. The Council leader also highlighted the importance of providing reassurance to the concerned local communities about the impact on public services.
Frustration has mounted as the Home Office remained unresponsive to Wakefield Council’s appeals until now. Suddenly, the announcement was made that yet another hotel in the district would be filled with asylum seekers in just a few days. This move has disregarded the objections raised by the council, trampled over the views of residents, and left little opportunity to halt the imposition of this decision.
The Home Office has resorted to housing asylum seekers in hotels across the country as a temporary measure due to an unprecedented backlog of individuals awaiting a decision on their asylum claims. Official figures from the Home Office revealed that in March 2023, over 172,000 people were still awaiting a verdict.
Cllr Maureen Cummings, the Cabinet Member for Communities, Poverty, and Health, expressed concerns about the adverse effects of this decision. She pointed out that it not only hampers efforts to care for the growing homeless community but also exacerbates pressure on communities and already overstretched public services. Additionally, placing vulnerable individuals with complex needs in locations without adequate support is deemed both lacking in compassion and unsafe.
During their stay at the hotels, the asylum seekers will be accommodated and managed by the Home Office and Mears Group. The Council and health services will collaborate with these organisations and the voluntary community sector to provide support for their basic needs.
Cllr Jeffery concluded by condemning the complete and utter incompetence displayed by the Government, which she believes is failing people, communities, and councils throughout the country. Urgent action is required to rectify the situation and mitigate the devastating impact it is having on all stakeholders involved.
An asylum seeker is an individual who has fled their home country due to persecution and serious human rights violations. While awaiting a decision on their asylum claim, they are not yet legally recognised as refugees.