Asylum seekers accommodation

Here you can find more information on asylum seekers

You may be aware that the Home Office have placed a number of people seeking asylum in a local hotel while their asylum application is assessed.

Central Government has a statutory duty to accommodate people who are seeking asylum. An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country, often suddenly, because they are faced with persecution, war or violence and cannot get protection there. Due to the number of boats that cross the English Channel continuing to rise, the Home Office is having to rely on using a range of approaches across the country to provide accommodation for those who have fled their country.

The decision by the Home Office to use a property in Tamworth for asylum seeker accommodation happened very quickly. A formal expression of concern was made to the Home Office for use of a local hotel due to its prominence at the heart of the town and tourism economy.

The council and local health providers were given no formal notice by the Home Office of their decision to officially ‘stand up’ or activate the hotel and home those seeking asylum.

Now the hotel is in use, the Home Office, through their approved contractor is providing support on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week along with security staff. This is all being funded by the Home Office.

The asylum seekers have now arrived safely at the hotel. Please be mindful that not all of these individuals will understand English, and they may have had a very difficult experience before arriving here. We would be grateful for your patience and understanding at what will be a worrying and confusing time for them.

We know you will have a lot of questions about this situation, how this happened so quickly and what the council’s involvement is. We have put together a number of responses to some frequently asked questions below which will hopefully help in understanding what’s going on. We will continue to update these.

What is an asylum seeker?
An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country, often suddenly, because they are faced with persecution, war or violence and cannot get protection there.

Why are they coming here?
They have fled war-torn countries, were trafficked to the UK or faced persecution and violence. They have temporary accommodation until their asylum request has been processed.

Why have the asylum seekers been placed in the hotel?
The Home Office told us they intended to use a hotel in Tamworth as temporary accommodation. This is due to the number of boats that cross the English Channel continuing to rise and the use of hotels is happening across the country, not just in Tamworth.

The decision to house asylum seekers here was made by the Home Office and is a commercial agreement with the hotel.

Was Tamworth Borough Council asked if the hotel could be used for this?
No, the Home Office makes the decision on which properties are used. We were informed of the intention to use the hotel but were not part of the decision-making process.

Are the council receiving any funding for this?
No, the council are not receiving any funding to support those staying at the hotel.

Why are most asylum seekers male?
They are not.

However, this hotel in Tamworth is currently homing men only.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), women and girls make up about half of any asylum seeking, refugee or internally displaced population.

However, women and children may be left in refugee camps in neighbouring countries while the men leave the camp to take the risky and often deadly trip to another country.

Families that travel together in a big group have a harder time with the logistics. Women and children are also at much higher risk of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation by traffickers and organised criminal gangs on the route. Therefore, families may stay behind and wait until the men have applied for asylum and the rest of their family will then follow in a much safer way. This is often facilitated by the British Red Cross.

How long will they remain in Tamworth?
At the moment we do not know how long the hotel will be used. We are assuming it will be for the foreseeable future. We will continue to seek clarification on this.

How long have the asylum seekers been in the country and where have they come from?
The number of refugees and people seeking asylum goes up and down, depending on what is happening in the world. Conflict in several countries has swelled recent figures.

The Home Office does not comment on individual cases.

It is worth noting that only 0.2 per cent of the population are refugees or asylum seekers.

Most asylum seekers flee over their nearest border, where they are likely to live in camps.

This can be seen in the case of Syria. Of the 6.7 million Syrian refugees globally, 4.6 million are being hosted by its neighbours – Turkey and Lebanon.

Asylum seekers come from many parts of the world. Government statistics suggest that for the year ending September 2021 highest numbers came from Iran, Eritrea, Albania, Iraq and Syria. The nationality of those residing at the hotel will therefore vary.

Why don’t asylum seekers stay in the first safe country?
Most do. 80% of the world’s asylum seekers and refugees are living in countries neighbouring their country of origin.

The number one reason that asylum seekers give for continuing their journey to the UK is that they have family ties here. This covers over 50% of cases. Other factors that people will take into account are more practical, for example, if you speak the language, you have more chance of being able to find a job and you can navigate everyday tasks like understanding public transport or going shopping.

It is also not uncommon for asylum seekers to also state their belief that the UK is a safe, tolerant and democratic country and refer to previous links between their own country and the UK.

There is no legal requirement for an asylum seeker to make their claim in any particular country.

What about bogus/illegal asylum seekers?
There is no such thing as an ‘illegal’ or ‘bogus’ asylum seeker.

Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country that has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and to remain there until the authorities have assessed their claim. This is a legal process.

Can asylum seekers claim welfare benefits?
No, asylum seekers are not able to claim welfare benefits, nor are they allowed to work.

Asylum seekers in the hotel receive food and accommodation and receive around £8 per week.

Will people have access to local health services?
Yes, they will be able to access local health services in the same way anyone visiting Tamworth on a temporary basis can.

Physical and mental health needs of those staying at the hotel have been assessed and local support is being put in place.

What is being done to ensure the behaviour of those at the hotel?
People living at the hotel are not prisoners.

The Home Office appointed contractor who is overseeing the hotel has staff on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Local police are aware that the hotel is being used to accommodate asylum seekers and is working closely with us and other partners.

The police will deal with any reports or concerns as they would normally do so. Although it is important to note there have been very few reports of any issues to local police.

We know rumours and comments on social media have caused tensions and concerns for the safety of those staying at the hotel, the staff at the hotel and the wider community. We would urge people to not spread rumours and report any personal experiences of anti-social behaviour to local police.

If you have any question about the provision of the hotel, please contact the Home Office by emailing public.enquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk or by calling 020 7035 4848.

Published 28 October 2022


Update 18 November 2022

Thank you to everyone for continuing to share your questions.

Some questions are very specific asking for information we don’t have or cannot answer. If we’ve already answered a question, we won’t duplicate the answer again.

We will continue to update these FAQs.

What do the asylum seekers need? I’d like to donate.
We’ve contacted Tamworth’s Community Together CIC who are supporting those staying at the hotel. (See also FAQ posted on the 4 November).

This week they are asking to donations of shoes/trainers, sizes 41, 42, 43 and 44, clean/new clothes and clothes.

Donations can be dropped off at the Community Together CIC office on Orchard Street (Monday – Friday 9am-5pm), or contact their helpline on 01827 59646 for other arrangements or for larger donations.

Toiletries are being given from Tamworth’s Hygiene Bank, see their website on details of where and how to donate: https://thehygienebank.com/locations

For those living at the hotel, what are the reasons for people seeking asylum?
The Home Office does not comment on individual cases.

However, information on the government’s website says:

To be eligible for asylum, people must have left their country and be unable to go back because of fear of persecution.

This persecution must be because of:

  • race
  • religion
  • nationality
  • political opinion
  • anything else that puts the person at risk because of the social, cultural, religious or political situation in their country, for example, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation

What is the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker?

Asylum seekers - When someone flees their own country, for example due to war, they can claim asylum as they arrive in another country.

An asylum seeker will then have their claim for asylum assessed (which can be a lengthy process, during which they have limited rights).

Once submitted, an asylum request will have one of three outcomes:

  • Full refugee status (indefinite leave to remain).
  • Temporary leave to remain for between 1-5 years 
  • A refusal, applicants may appeal against a refusal and can remain in the UK whilst appealing. If the appeal is unsuccessful they must return to their home country.

Until they receive a decision as to whether or not they are a refugee, they are known as an asylum seeker.

The 1951 Refugee Convention guarantees anyone the right to apply for asylum in another country that has also signed the Convention. It also guarantees that they can remain there until their claim has been processed.

Refugees - In the UK, refugees are people who have been granted asylum and have the right to stay in the UK.


Update 11 November 2022

Please evidence the economic impact on tourism with the hotel not being available for bookings.
We do not hold commercial information for any private business.

Business and leisure tourism is important to the local economy, encouraging business growth and job opportunities. If people choose not to visit Tamworth as they can’t find a place to stay, our local economy will be impacted. National economic data shows those staying overnight are more likely to spend more supporting the local economy.

We do receive annual tourism data from Staffordshire Destination Management Partnership, but we would not have the information for 2022 for a considerable time.

How are these people being classed as asylum seekers when they actually are economic illegal migrants?
Where people are claiming asylum from the Home Office, they are recognised as asylum seekers and are waiting for their asylum application to be assessed.

Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country that has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and to remain there until the authorities have assessed their claim. This is a legal process.

An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country, often suddenly, because they are faced with persecution, war or violence and cannot get protection there. Many have fled war-torn countries, were trafficked to the UK or faced persecution and violence. They have temporary accommodation until their asylum request has been processed.

The UK asylum system is strictly controlled and complex. However, the majority of asylum claims are successful. In the year ending June 2022, 76% of initial decisions resulted in a grant of asylum or other form of protection. (Source, Home Office statistics.)

The Home Office are responsible for processing claims for asylum and aim to process those applications within six months.

Where asylum is granted, people are recognised as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention and are allowed to remain in the UK for five years. At the end of five years, subject to the outcome of any review and to the policies in place at the time, people can seek indefinite leave to remain.

Is it the case that several of the asylum seekers have already absconded?
The Home Office does not comment on individual cases.

We do however know that some asylum seekers even in the UK, remain at high risk of human trafficking and modern slavery. The Home Office are working to tackle this illegal activity.

If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking and modern slavery, please report to local police on 101 or call 999 in an emergency. You can also make an anonymous call to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Have you been granted permission that is required to turn this hotel into a hostel if used solely for immigrants?
Stoke City Council and a few other councils have applied for injunctions on planning grounds. Stoke City Council in their application suggested that using the hotel to house asylum seekers was a "material change of use" and was a breach of planning controls.

Stoke City Council’s application was rejected by the high court. In this case, Mr Justice Linden described the council's application as "weak" and said it was "not a case where any changes to the building, the fabric of the hotel or the land on which it is situated.”

We’re monitoring what is happening in other areas closely and are reviewing our legal position.

If those living at the hotel have asylum granted, are they going to be moved into accommodation in Tamworth, or do they have a choice of where they want to go in the UK?
Where asylum is granted, people are recognised as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention and are allowed to remain in the UK for five years.

Where the Home Office grants asylum, people will be given a Residence Permit; an identity document allowing the person to work, study, access public funds and find a place to live.

There is no rule to say people must settle where they have been staying while seeking asylum.


Update 4 November 2022

The law relating to asylum seekers states that they should seek refuge in the first safe country they reach.
This is not true.

The UN Refugee Convention does not make this requirement of refugees. Refugees can legitimately make a claim for asylum in the UK after passing through other “safe” countries.

Under international law, anyone has the right to apply for asylum in any country that has signed the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and to remain there until the authorities have assessed their claim. This is a legal process.

There is no legal requirement for an asylum seeker to make their claim in any particular country.

I was wondering if there were any charities or donations accepted at the hotel for these men who may have suffered unimaginable journeys to get here? If there are any charities collecting clothes/toiletries donations, I'd like to know so I can donate.
Tamworth’s Community Together CIC are supporting those staying at the hotel, funded by Mercian PCN additional Care Coordinator Support. Both coordinating donations and activities with those staying at the hotel to support Tamworth such as organising litter picks, garden tidy ups etc.

They are asking for donations of clean/new clothes suitable for men of a slender build and board games. Donations can be dropped off at the Community Together CIC office on Orchard Street (Monday – Friday 9am-5pm), or contact their helpline on 01827 59646 for other arrangements or for larger donations.

Toiletries are being given from Tamworth’s Hygiene Bank, see their website on details of where and how to donate: https://thehygienebank.com/locations

Other organisations also looking to donate are asked to contact the Community Together CIC, so donations can be coordinated with the hotel and the Home Office contractors managing the site.

Is it true that most of the asylum seekers who have recently arrived in Tamworth have no documentation or evidence regarding their origin, age or other personal details?
The Home Office does not comment on individual cases, and this is not information as a council hold.

Asylum seekers come from many parts of the world. Government statistics suggest that for the year ending September 2021 highest numbers came from Iran, Eritrea, Albania, Iraq and Syria. The nationality of those residing at the hotel will therefore vary.

Why has Tamworth Borough Council decided to publish this information on the website when other councils have not?
Many other local councils have published similar information.

We realised local people in Tamworth had a lot of questions about those seeking asylum living in Tamworth, so developed these frequently asked questions to help explain what is happening and why.

Other local authorities (for example Stoke and Ipswich) have obtained high court injunctions to stop hotels in their areas being used for asylum seekers. Did Tamworth Borough Council consider this or try and get an injunction, and if not why not?
We have not dismissed formal action.

Those injunctions granted were temporary and short term, pending formal hearing and decision in the High Court.

We’ve since heard the High Court has rejected the application from Stoke City Council.

We’re monitoring what is happening closely and are reviewing our legal position.

Would it be helpful if the applications were assessed more rapidly, so we know if they are genuine or not?
The Home Office are responsible for processing claims for asylum and aim to process those applications within six months.

Where asylum is granted, people are recognised as refugees under the 1951 Refugee Convention and are allowed to remain in the UK for five years. At the end of five years, subject to the outcome of any review and to the policies in place at the time, people can seek indefinite leave to remain.

What is the actual cost of homing those seeking asylum in Tamworth?
This is not information we hold.

The Home Office are responsible for those staying at the hotel in Tamworth.

The council are not receiving any funding to support those staying at the hotel.

What about the petition launched by Councillors, does the petition mean Tamworth does not support people seeking asylum?
We want to help those in need.

The petition in an objection to use of the specific hotel, and due to its location, the impact of removing that hotel as an option for people to use when visiting the town on Tamworth’s businesses and economy.

What other hotel would you suggest is used instead?
That is a conversation we hoped to have with the Home Office, working with them to balance the needs of those seeking asylum and our local tourism and business economy.

We hoped to be able to work collaboratively to come up with a suitable solution.

How are individuals ongoing needs supported in the community setting and who is responsible for arranging and co-ordinating this?
The Home Office are responsible for the welfare of those seeking asylum while their applications are assessed.

Local health services are being provided in the same way anyone visiting Tamworth on a temporary basis can.

Tamworth’s Community Together CIC as a voluntary organisation are supporting those staying at the hotel, funded by Mercian PCN additional Care Coordinator Support. Both coordinating donations and activities with those staying at the hotel to support Tamworth such as organising litter picks, garden tidy ups etc.

They are asking for donations of clean/new clothes suitable for men of a slender build and board games. Donations can be dropped off at the Community Together CIC office on Orchard Street (Monday – Friday 9am-5pm), or contact their helpline on 01827 59646 for other arrangements or for larger donations.

Toiletries are being given from Tamworth’s Hygiene Bank, see their website on details of where and how to donate.

While seeking asylum, people are not able to work or claim benefits. They are however given around £8 per week for personal spends such as phone credit etc.


How to ask a question?

We know you will have a lot of questions about this situation.

We’ve hopefully answered many questions here. But we may not have covered everything, so we welcome your questions and comments.

Submit your question/comments to us using our online form. We’ll then review all questions and feedback and update these frequently asked questions. We’ll also use the information you share with us in conversations with the Home Office, their contractors managing the hotel and local partners such as police and health services.

Submit your question.