Government spending £1m a day on Afghan refugees in hotels
Refugees from Afghanistan are being housed in hotels at a cost of £1 million a day in the run-up to the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover, it has emerged.
Around 9,500 refugees are still living in hotels, one year on from the Taliban seizing power on August 15 last year.
Some 70 hotels are understood to still be in use at a daily cost of £1 million.
This is slightly down from 84 hotels which were previously being used, and it is understood officials are constantly looking at ways to drive down the cost.
In February, the Home Affairs Committee heard that the Government was spending £4.7 million a day housing asylum seekers in hotels, of which £1.2 million was being spent specifically on Afghan refugees.
Around 7,000 Afghanistan evacuees are said to have been moved into settled accommodation since arriving in the country.
Officials recognise that living in hotels for months is not the best situation for families, and are working to move them on to settled accommodation as quickly as possible.
It has emerged that a number of refugees had initially been reluctant to move to places such as Scotland or Wales because they believed English is not spoken there or it is too cold.
Officials are working closely with families to encourage them to accept offers of accommodation and clear up any misconceptions.
Some 350 councils are understood to have pledged their support in housing refugees across the UK.
But it is said to be complex in terms of matching families with appropriate homes according to the size of the family, its needs and specific vulnerabilities, on top of wider, pre-existing pressures on the housing system.
In June, refugees minister Lord Richard Harrington wrote to councils saying he was determined to move refugees from Afghanistan out of hotel accommodation, and appealing for further help.
But he said that, as of the week commencing June 13, there were fewer than 100 properties available to match families with.
Lord Harrington said most of those in hotels were larger families and therefore needed properties with at least four bedrooms.