As of 28 February 2021, there were approximately 8,700 people accommodated in under 90 different hotels across the UK.
This is to be found in correspondence from the Home Office to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, dated February 2021. (The Home Office confirmed in September that the figure may have dropped slightly but remains in the same ballpark).
The February 2021 document also stated that hotel accommodation was forecast to cost ‘a further £40-70 million’ in 2021/22, after contingency accommodation costs of £258m in financial year 2020/21.
However, the cost could be much higher than this. The National Audit Office said in June 2020 that it cost £15 million to house about 1,300 people in hotels between October and December 2019. That is about £60 million per year. That is £11,500 per person over a three month period. If these estimates are applied to 8,700 people and then expanded across the year, the total cost of hotel accommodation could be as high as £100 million for three months, or £400 million per year.
People waiting for a decision on their asylum support application are provided with temporary full-board or self-catering accommodation (‘initial accommodation’) under section 98 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (‘the 1999 Act’). If there is no available designated initial accommodation, hotels, hostels or B&B type accommodation might be used.
About 10,300 people were receiving taxpayer-funded support under Section 98 in quarter March 2021). The figures for failed asylum claimants who are housed and receiving payment cards (under Section 4 of the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act) have also gone up, with about 6,000 people currently supported. See link to figures and graph below.
Separately there are also about 45,000 people housed in asylum-related housing (dispersed accommodation) around the country.
Figure 1: Number of asylum seekers housed in contingency accommodation, and total failed asylum seekers housed under Section 4 of Immigration and Asylum Act 1999