Asylum City

  • Published 1st Oct 2002
  • Authors: Guy Palmer,
  • Category: Services

The paper was written in response to government plans to set up accommodation centres to house asylum seekers. The purpose of this paper is to examine what resources will be required to ensure that the accommodation centres are adequately equipped and staffed. The motivation for the analysis is that, thus far, the government has released virtually no information on this subject, on the grounds of confidentiality. To help ensure that the centres do actually provide adequate facilities, this note aims to provide some benchmarks against which government plans, once announced, can then be judged to identify areas of possible inadequacy.

In examining this issue, it is vital to understand that the change being proposed is not simply ‘accommodation centres versus being housed in the community’. It is also about ‘being in a rural setting versus being in an urban setting’. A simple example illustrates the point: if an asylum seeker wants to visit a mosque then, if they are in London or another major city, they will be able to do so whether they live in an accommodation centre or in the community; in contrast, if they are in a rural area then it is unlikely that they will be able to do so whether they live in an accommodation centre or in the community. Where possible, the analysis in this note distinguishes between these two dimensions of the proposed change.

Finally, the note in no way attempts to provide a comprehensive analysis of the resource requirements – such an exercise would be virtually impossible given the lack of information about government plans in the public realm. It also avoids simplistic statements of possible costs which we believe are often misleading because one does not know what is and is not included in the calculations – for example, whilst the Home Office apparently told The Guardian that the average costs of detaining an asylum seeker was £29,000 per year, the Home Office’s cost model puts the figure at £9,000 per year for adults and £18,000 per year for families. Rather, the document provides a reflection on aspects that could be considered important.

About this report
This report was commissioned by the members of the Asylum Coalition and researched and written by Guy Palmer.