LONDON: Asylum seekers in Britain being housed in hotels have been told by the UK Home Office to pay for non-basic toiletries themselves, a letter has revealed.
People fleeing the Taliban, some of whom worked for the British military or authorities, say the latest move from the British government shows that it “does not care” about them anymore.
It was revealed that the Home Office is spending £4.7 million ($6.36 million) per day housing asylum seekers in hotels and providing for them — an estimated £127 per person.
Faiz Mohammad Seddeqi, 30, a former guard at the British Embassy in Kabul, is one such evacuee from Afghanistan and has been staying at one of the hotels for almost six months.
He was evacuated with his wife and son during the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan in August last year.
“When we see this kind of reaction and decision from the Home Office, it means ‘from onward we don’t care about you and we are not concerned about you — you need to manage everything by yourself,’” he said.
He said that the hotel in Watford where he and his family are staying is “not very clean” and that the food they are given is “not good.”
The letter he received, addressed from the Afghanistan Resettlement Arrivals Project at the Home Office, reads: “Until now, in addition to your Universal Credit payments and the accommodation and meals provided in the bridging hotels, we have also provided some additional items.
“I am writing to inform you that from Feb. 11 we will no longer provide those additional items and you will need to purchase these for yourself using your Universal Credit payments.”
According to the letter, asylum seekers will still receive “main meals,” including “baby food and baby milk,” but will no longer receive “complimentary snacks, toiletries (aside from basic toiletries) or over-the-counter medication.”
The letter added: “You will need to pay your own transport or taxi fares to appointments,” referencing the Home Office’s desire for those being resettled to find work.
“All hotel residents continue to receive fully furnished accommodation, including a choice of three meals a day, constant access to drinking water, basic toiletries and their utility costs are covered,” a Home Office spokesperson said.
Some 25,000 asylum seekers and 12,000 Afghan refugees are now staying in hotels in the UK, the Home Office told the Home Affairs Committee this week.
At the session, MPs were told that the UK government was “optimistic” that it can find a revised way of working with councils on managing costs.
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the current policy toward housing the evacuees was “thoroughly inadequate,” adding: “We do not want people in hotels.”
She said that the government and local authorities were “absolutely struggling” to move Afghan refugees into more suitable, permanent accommodation, because the infrastructure to do so is “insufficient.”