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Asylum seekers taken from taxpayer-funded hotels and simply moved to other hotels, Sky News finds

Asylum seekers being moved out of taxpayer-funded hotels are simply being moved to other hotels still paid for by the Home Office, Sky News has learned.

Home Office minister Chris Philip told Sky News the government had already closed 50 hotels to migrants, reducing the number from 398 to 348 - something they had pledged to do by the end of this month with a promise to house them in cheaper types of accommodation like the Bibby Stockholm barge.

But Sky News has seen taxis full of migrants leaving one hotel in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, only to arrive at another hotel 70 miles away in Derbyshire.

One asylum seeker from Afghanistan, who we're calling Khan, 19, arrived on a small boat in early June 2022. He will now be unable to continue attending college, where he was studying English and GCSE Maths, as his new hotel is too far away.

He states he had no choice but to move. "The hotel tell us that if you cancel this process you must sleep on the road like a homeless [person]," he says.

Khan came to the UK because his family worked for the Afghan government so he no longer felt safe after the Taliban takeover of the country in 2021.

Due to the length of time he's been waiting for a decision his asylum claim is part of the "legacy" backlog that Rishi Sunak pledged to "abolish" by the end of 2022.

The Home Office said the pledge had been "delivered", having processed more than 112,000 asylum claims overall in 2023.

It means Khan had expected by now to not still be living in taxpayer-funded accommodation.

"I am also not happy to stay in hotel accommodation because I want to work. I want to start a new life and I cannot do something right now… just sleep and eat," he says.

He currently has a solicitor chasing the Home Office for a decision on his claim.

"Up to now no-one gave me a response, up to December when I emailed them they told us wait up to the end of the year - now the new year start and when we email them, no-one responds."

A group of residents who offer support to people seeking asylum has been tracking the movements of these hotel closures over recent months.

Sarah Frost, lead co-ordinator from Wyre Forest Supports Asylum Seekers, told Sky News: "We've got four from here who got moved from a hotel that was closing just before Christmas.

"They got moved here, and now they're moving on to another hotel. So some people have been in five or six hotels in a matter of six months or so."

She adds: "I suppose [the Home Office is] consolidating hotels but obviously it still costs to feed the person…I can't see how it's really saving money because taxi fares from Derbyshire to Worcestershire is going to cost a lot of money."

Another hotel in Bewdley, Worcestershire, was closed last week, but Sky News has been told the men were sent to three different hotels further north.

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Hallo, not his real name, 31, from Iraq was sent by taxi with eight other men to a hotel in Staffordshire.

"It's just shifting around, just switching…just wasting money", he says. "I think it's just because of the next election so they want to tell the native people we sorted out the hotels, the cases, the backlog cases."

The closure of hotels has also affected families. Near Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, the curtains are shut and children's scooters have been abandoned outside a hotel that was recently closed to migrants.

Sky News has been told that children have lost school places because they were moved suddenly to another county.

The Home Office told Sky News it is making significant progress to reduce the cost of £8.2m a day to UK taxpayers.

A spokesperson said: "As we exit more hotels in the coming months, we remain upfront about accommodation being on a no-choice basis. This means that individuals may be moved to other parts of the asylum accommodation estate too, including hotels."

Additional reporting by Nick Stylianou