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Use of hotels for bridging accommodation

Since the summer of 2021, ‘bridging’ accommodation has been used to house people who arrive under the Afghan resettlement and relocation schemes until they move into appropriate long-term accommodation. It is typically rooms in hotels or serviced apartments and costs around £1 million per day.

Bridging accommodation was intended to be a temporary measure but many households have spent much longer than anticipated living in hotels. Underlying causes include a lack of suitable accommodation to move on to, ineffective matching of households to accommodation, reluctance to leave existing support structures and move to unfamiliar parts of the UK, and difficulties renting in the private sector. At the end of March 2023 there were over 8,000 Afghans in bridging accommodation, half of them children.

Withdrawing bridging accommodation

In April 2023 the government began a process to stop all use of bridging accommodation. The first group of people are expected to leave hotels by the end of July. All households currently issued with a notice to quit are due to move out by the end of August. Also, the government is now only arranging travel to the UK for further people offered resettlement under the Afghan schemes once they have long-term accommodation in place.

Some vulnerable households will receive an offer of long-term accommodation to move into, which could be anywhere in the UK. If the accommodation will not be ready until after the household must move out of their hotel, interim accommodation will be provided, either in the same bridging hotel or elsewhere.

Most households will not be allocated housing and are instead being supported to find their own accommodation. The government is providing £285 million new funding to help local authorities source suitable properties and support people to make their own arrangements.

Ministers say the new policy is “tackling difficult problems” and strikes an appropriate balance between support and compulsion to move out of hotels.

Reactions to the announcement

There is broad agreement that prolonged stays in bridging accommodation are undesirable. But local government representatives have said it will be challenging to find accommodation for everyone and are worried that some households will become homeless following the withdrawal of bridging accommodation.

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