Refugees in London hotels are refusing to move into new homes
Afghan refugees have been rejecting permanent homes in Central London after fleeing the Taliban, council documents show. A Westminster City Council report shows Afghan families have been rejecting offers of a permanent home.
The documents add that the Home Office is facing "significant issues" when it comes to rehousing Afghan refugees in London. Since October 2021, the council has moved 45 families and 179 refugees out of Metropole Hotel but they have a “significant issue” with people rejecting homes.
Westminster City Council and the Home Office were asked why refugees had turned down homes, but neither gave details when questioned by the Local Democracy Reporting Service. A Westminster scrutiny report said: “We continue to have a significant issue with offers being rejected; 24 accommodation offers have been rejected by families, representing potentially another 100+ people who could have moved to their own homes.”
The Home Office has also told the council that the Metropole Hotel will be emptied of Afghan refugees at the end of March. This means 330 refugees including 190 children will have to be moved elsewhere.
So far the council and Home Office have worked together to move 260 refugees, including 134 children, to 15 hotels across the country. In total the Central London borough will need to find 600 Afghan refugees' homes while nationally up to 20,000 Afghan women, children and others at risk will be resettled in the UK.
Council plans show the remaining refugees are expected to be moved from March 28. The Home Office is expected to now set out a formal policy to deal with refugees rejecting homes next week. Westminster City Council is looking at moving the remaining refugees to two properties. So far the council has resettled just one Afghan family in the borough and a second family is expected to move into their new home next week.
Both families are receiving dedicated support from the council’s support service, and council officers. The council also checks in on families weekly to make sure their needs are met. A Home Office spokesperson said: “The use of hotels to house those resettled from Afghanistan is a short-term solution and we are working with local authorities to find appropriate long-term accommodation for them.
“Councils have been given integration funding to support those starting a new life in the UK, with £20,520 per person provided over three years to meet the costs. Local authorities will also receive additional funding for children entering education, to cover English language provision, and to cover healthcare.”