Forty-six asylum seekers arrived at the former military site in Wethersfield, Essex, today (Wednesday 12 July) with more individuals to arrive in the coming weeks.
This is part of a carefully structured plan to increase the number of asylum seekers there to 1,700 by this autumn.
Wethersfield is one of several alternative accommodation sites the government is using as part of its work to move to a more orderly, cost effective and sustainable system for accommodating asylum seekers, which not only is more manageable for communities but will also help reduce the incentives for people to travel through safe countries.
To help ensure sufficient support is in place, Braintree Council is receiving £3,500 per occupied bed space, with additional funding provided to the local NHS.
Preparations are also continuing on the Bibby Stockholm vessel, currently in Falmouth, which will accommodate the first asylum seekers in Portland Port this month.
The site and vessel provide basic and functional accommodation which offers better value for taxpayers than using hotels.
The use of vessels for accommodation brings the UK in line with other countries around Europe, for example in the Netherlands where migrants have successfully been accommodated on vessels. The Scottish Government have also used vessels for Ukrainian refugees.
The Home Office has worked closely with local councils and stakeholders to minimise the impact of the site and vessel on local services and the community, while understanding their views and providing support.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, said:
Those individuals who have entered the UK illegally shouldn’t be given hotel accommodation at great expense to the taxpayer. That’s why our large disused military sites and vessels will provide basic and functional accommodation for small boat arrivals whilst we pursue their removal.
We have committed substantial financial support to local councils and we remain committed to working with key stakeholders to ensure these sites have as little impact as possible for communities.
Ultimately the best way to relieve pressures on communities is to stop the boats in the first place. Our Stop the Boats Bill will ensure illegal entrants to the UK can be detained and swiftly removed.
The government continues work on delivering alternative asylum accommodation sites, including Scampton in Lincolnshire which will accommodate the first of its 2,000 asylum seekers this summer.
Wethersfield, the Portland vessel and Scampton will house single adult male asylum seekers. The accommodation provided meets all relevant housing and health and safety standards.
Resources provided onsite will include meals, onsite primary health care provision, a multi-faith room, recreational and indoor and outdoor exercise facilities.
To reduce hotel use the Home Office is also making sure that migrants routinely share hotel rooms with at least one person where appropriate, in order to make progress on work to reduce the use of hotels and minimise the impact on communities while we stand up these alternatives sites.