The UK Government is under pressure to take a second look at the way that asylum seekers are dispersed. Evidence shows that these people are being shunted to the poorest areas in the country. Private security contractors are responsible for managing them, and the local authorities receive monetary compensation for agreeing to house them.
Based on the statistics available from the UK Home Office, in 2016, 867 asylum seekers were placed in Stockton, and the Government paid for the accommodation as well as daily living allowance while their asylum applications were being processed.
The figure for Stockton is the highest that any local authority in the area has taken. The next place is Newcastle with 797 asylum seekers, followed by Middlesbrough with 589 asylum seekers. These figures clearly show that the Government guidelines to house one asylum seeker per 200 people have not been followed.
On the other hand, more well-to-do areas, such as North Yorkshire, followed the Government guidelines. In North Yorkshire, just two asylum seekers have been placed, while in Northumbria 19 have been housed.
While housing asylum seekers is voluntary, local authorities that agree to keep asylum seekers do not receive anything extra to help out with the increased cost of education and healthcare.
Some county councils are now trying to change this and are meeting the Home Office to put their case forward. Officials from North Yorkshire County Council will be meeting representatives from the Home Office in May 2017 to discuss additional funding for education and healthcare for the asylum seekers.
Home Affairs Select Committee Chair Yvette Cooper stated that the asylum seeker dispersal system is unfair and the Government has to urgently address this. Analysis has revealed that five times as many asylum seekers live in the poorest third of the country as in the richest third, and Cooper stated that this is not advisable as it will result in resentment from the local communities that are already struggling.