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The expectation is for this additional capacity to be met by having the asylum seekers share rooms; a divergence from the general practice up until now of providing each asylum seeker with their own room.
On Friday 18 August, Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, visited the Station Hotel and Best Western Queens Hotel in Perth, which are currently accommodating 81 and 54 asylum seekers respectively. The visit came after the Home Office confirmed that an additional 115 asylum seekers are due to be accommodated in the hotels.
Pete Wishart met with hotel management as well as management from Mears Group, the company in charge of the provision of accommodation for asylum seekers.
Mears Group expressed concern over these plans, which only began to be rolled out across the UK last week. Pete Wishart was told that in the first instance the asylum seekers in Perth would be asked who they would prefer to share a room with; and that individuals with medical conditions could be exempted.
However, it remains unclear what would happen if anybody was to refuse without a medical exemption. The Home Office stated that they will be working with Perth and Kinross Council to mitigate the impact on local services and the wider community, and there is an understanding that additional grants will be made available.
Pete Wishart said: “After receiving confirmation from the Home Office that they intend to almost double the number of asylum seekers being accommodated in the Perth hotels by introducing room sharing, I was keen to see for myself the accommodation being offered and how this would work in practice.
“What was abundantly clear was that the size of the accommodation is insufficient and that other solutions would be required. Any increase in numbers has to take into account these people’s vulnerable circumstances, with no one forced to share against their will.
“I was assured by Mears Group that they will be working constructively with PKC and local agencies as these plans develop, and I am now seeking clarity from the Home Office about how they plan to fund PKC for any increased demand on local services.
“The UK Government’s handling of asylum seekers has been an embarrassing and shocking disgrace. From inhumane flights to Rwanda that have never taken off, to barges with no one on them.
“In stark contrast, the people of Perth and Kinross have a proud history of offering support and sanctuary to those fleeing conflict – most recently from Ukraine, Afghanistan and Syria. I have no doubt we will continue that tradition with these new arrivals, whilst ensuring we maintain our city’s fantastic community relations.”