Two asylum seekers sleeping rough outside West Berkshire Council after being forced to leave hotel

  • ITV News Meridian's Juliette Fletcher reports from Newbury.

Two asylum seekers are sleeping rough outside West Berkshire Council because the local authority has nowhere to home them - despite the pair now being granted permission to stay in the UK.

The two fathers, one from Sudan and one from Syria - had been staying at Regency Park Hotel for over a year and a half after fleeing their home countries.

Now they've got their Right to Remain paperwork they've had to leave, try and find work and their weekly allowance has stopped.

The Leader of the Council says the authority is working hard to find suitable accommodation and wants to make sure the camp doesn't increase in size.

The two fathers - from Sudan and Syria - have been living in a hotel for over a year. Credit: ITV News Meridian

West Berkshire Council told ITV News Meridian that it is working to support all West Berkshire residents recently required to vacate their previous accommodation.

It said in this situation the Home Office has been using a hotel as initial accommodation for residents while their asylum applications are processed. Some of these residents have now started to receive their leave-to-remain status documentation.

However, the Home Office has only given a short amount of time for these residents to leave their initial accommodation in order to find alternative accommodation, the council said.

Some have been accommodated but others have not been able to find suitable housing within this timescale and have requested assistance from West Berkshire Council’s housing department.

The leader of West Berkshire Council says it's working hard to find suitable accommodation for the two asylum seekers. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Where this happens, and in line with relevant legislation, the council's housing team assign applicants a case officer to assess their needs, and priority status, and to work with them to find settled accommodation.  

The council also said it is worth noting that these requests for support are processed in the same way as any other request for help to ensure parity of service for all who require their housing support.

It said it is "working hard" to find suitable accommodation as quickly as possible to ensure the encampment doesn't increase in size.

Councillor Denise Gaines, Executive Member for Housing, said: "The Home Office has completely failed in its duty of care towards people who are seeking asylum and support in a new country and left local councils, with no additional funding, to resolve the consequences of this neglectful policy.

"These residents, once granted asylum and given leave to remain by the Home Office, were given minimal days to leave their accommodation and find somewhere to live in WestBerkshire.

"A mammoth task for anyone just starting out, let alone someone in a strange countrystruggling even to speak the language. 

"Seven days is nowhere near enough time to achieve this, and I urge the Home Secretary to reconsider this ill-conceived strategy and extend the period to something much more realistic and give local councils the funding to support our new residents to establish themselves giving them at least a chance to succeed."

A Home Office spokesperson said that individuals get 28 days to move on from accommodation, not seven.

In a statement, they said: "The pressure on the asylum system has continued to grow, with hotel accommodation costing millions of pounds a day.

"We encourage individuals to make their onward plans as soon as possible after receiving their decision, whether that is leaving the UK following a refusal, or taking steps to integrate in the UK following a grant."

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