Illegal migrants will be housed on giant barges as the government bids to cut back on the £3.5billion it is spending on housing asylum seekers in hotels.
New arrivals into the UK could be sent to live on the static ships similar to those often used by builders and construction workers for accommodation when working offshore.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick is set to announce tomorrow that anyone coming to Britain illegally – including crossing the Channel in small boats – won’t stay in hotels.
Instead they will be sent to large sites, with airbases like RAF Scampton – home of the Dambusters – and former RAF Wetherfield in line to be chosen over the objections of angry locals.
The announcement of putting migrants on barges floating offshore is set to be made in the coming days, according to The Sun.
Offshore barges, similar to those used by construction crews (pictured), could be used to house migrants
Those on the vessels would be allowed on to land for a limited time for exercise, according to reports
It reports the Home Office doesn’t want potential migrants to be attracted to the UK by housing them in three, four and five star hotels, as it has in recent years.
Last year the government spent £3.5billion paying for hotels to house migrants arriving on Britain’s shores.
The government is set to defend the plans by pointing out that EU countries such as France already do the same thing.
Those housed on these barges would be allowed off to exercise on land, although the vessels themselves will have 24/7 security and luxuries on board in a bid to stop residents attempting to leave.
It is believed more than 51,000 asylum seekers are currently in around 400 hotels across Britain at this moment in time, with the money for this coming out of the Foreign Office budget.
The chair of the Commons International Development select committee, Sarah Champion, accused the government of ‘profligate’ spending.
She hit out at the home Office’s ‘failure to get on top of asylum application backlogs and keep control of the costs of asylum accommodation and support contracts’.
There have been anti-migrant protests outside hotels housing asylum seekers in recent months, with one at the weekend in Newquay, Cornwall, descending into violence when anti-fascist protesters clashed with members of an anti-refugee group.
Anti-migrant protesters at a demonstration outside the Beresford Hotel in Newquay, Cornwall, on March 26. The hotel is housing around 200 asylum seekers
Plans to turn RAF Scampton (pictured) into a migrant detention centre have sparked fury among locals
RAF Scampton, which was home to the Dambusters’ 617 Squadron (pictured here in 1943 at the airbase) has been listed as a site that could be turned into a migrant centre
As well as the barges, migrants could also be put in large-scale facilities on land against the wishes of those living nearby.
The government is set to try and sweeten the deal by giving local councils extra cash and other measures.
Senior MPs, including Sir Edward Leigh and James Cleverly have spoken of their outrage at the suggestion that former RAF bases in their constituencies could be transformed into migrant detention centres against the will of locals.
In Leigh’s constituency of Gainsborough, the local council has applied for listed status for the officers’ mess at RAF Scampton in a bid to block government plans to turn it into an asylum seeker detention centre – while historians and celebrities have joined locals demanding the proposals are dropped.
But the government, which will be firming up the locations of these sites in the coming days, will claim it’s in the ‘national interest’, The Sun reported.
It has already performed a U-turn on housing asylum seekers at a Grade-II listed Georgian mansion after a massive backlash.
Former children’s learning centre Marle Hall, on the edge of Snowdonia, Wales, was earmarked on Friday to house asylum seekers as the Home Office struggled to find suitable accommodation.
Ministers have now turned back on the idea to house migrants in the 15-bedroom mansion that is more than 300 miles away from Dover, just months after Tory MPs vented fury at migrants staying in a luxury £300-a-night Hilton hotel that was also in Snowdonia.
Aberconwy Tory MP Robin Millar had expressed ‘strong concerns’ about the suitability of Marle Hall and welcomed the U-turn as a ‘relief for many in the community’.
Rishi Sunak told MPs today it was important government policy doesn’t ‘incentivise people to bring children who wouldn’t otherwise come here’
It came as ministers were urged to give ‘serious assurances’ they will not return to the ‘barbaric days’ of detaining children in immigration centres.
Conservative former minister Tim Loughton led calls for the Government to confirm it would not to place migrant children in indefinite detention if they come to the UK by unauthorised means.
The Prime Minister told MPs the new policy should include families to prevent an ‘incentive’ for people to bring minors with them.
During a grilling from the Commons Liaison Committee, Rishi Sunak said: ‘The intention of this policy is not to detain children but it’s important that we don’t inadvertently create a policy that incentivises people to bring children who wouldn’t otherwise come here.
‘Otherwise you create an incentive for a criminal gang to bring a child with them when they otherwise wouldn’t be, and I don’t think that is a good thing.’