We’ve got £5-6 million of taxpayers’ money being spent every day housing illegal migrants in hotels.
In an interview with BBC Look North (East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire) on 28 September, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said twice that the government spends “£5-6 million” every day housing “illegal migrants” in hotels. He also made the same claim in an interview with ITV News West Country.
Downing Street hasn’t responded to our questions about Mr Sunak’s claim, but it appears he was using an out-of-date figure which is no longer correct.
When we asked the Home Office about Mr Sunak’s claim, it told us that as of the end of June the cost of housing asylum seekers in hotels was £8.3 million per day. And in the Home Office’s most recent Annual Report and Accounts, published on 19 September, the department said that “housing migrants in hotels” is “costing the taxpayer around £8 million a day”.
While we don’t know for sure what statistic Mr Sunak was referring to, he has previously made claims about the cost of housing “illegal migrants” in hotels when referring to the amount spent on asylum seekers.
For example, in speeches on 7 March and 5 June he said around “£6 million a day” was spent putting up “illegal migrants in hotels”. At the time, this was a broadly correct figure for the amount spent on accommodating asylum seekers in hotels—according to figures provided to the Home Office Select Committee, in October 2022, the government was spending £5.6 million a day.
But since then, more up-to-date figures have been published showing the cost has risen, as the number of asylum seekers in hotels has also increased.
According to the most recent government data, as of 30 June 2023 there were 50,546 asylum seekers housed in hotels, which was nearly 5,000 higher than the total at the end of 2022.
When politicians make claims using official data, they should take care to ensure that their information is up to date and accurate.
If an MP makes a false or misleading claim on broadcast media they should take responsibility for ensuring it is appropriately corrected, and make efforts to ensure the correction is publicly available to anyone who might have heard their original comment.
Image courtesy of the Prime Minister's Office.