The parliamentary constituencies of senior ministers, including Prime Minister David Cameron, are housing hardly any newly-arrived asylum seekers, despite the Prime Minister’s commitment to taking in at least 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next few years.
Speaking to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday, Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said he wanted more councils to be involved in housing the new arrivals after it was revealed a large number were being concentrated in poorer parts of the country.
Mr Brokenshire admitted that he did not know of any being located in his own constituency of Old Bexley and Sidcup in Kent, while David Cameron – who in September pledged to take 20,000 refugees into Britain – is also not housing any in his Witney constituency.
The Times says that last year, Labour MP Paul Flynn also pointed out how his Newport seat had taken 459 asylum seekers, while Chancellor George Osborne’s constituency of Tatton had taken only two, and Home Secretary Theresa May’s Maidenhead seat had taken five.
Asylum seekers have largely been housed in London in recent years, causing the capital’s population to explode, but the government has introduced a policy to disperse new arrivals around the country and away from South East England.
However, many have simply ended up concentrated in poorer areas elsewhere, mainly in northern England, Scotland and Wales.
Officially, local authorities take asylum seekers on the basis of one per 200 residents, although in working class Middlesbrough the figure nearer one per 180.
Sarah Rapson, director general of UK Visas and Immigration, told the committee: “We would like more local authorities to participate because that would ease the system.”
Following the social media storm over the photograph of Kurdish boy Aylan Kurdi, who drowned while crossing the Mediterranean, David Cameron promised to take in 20,000 refugees from camps within Syria over the next four years.
The figures will count towards to UK’s annual immigration intake, and come as migration reaches an all-time high of 330,000.