Suella Braverman insists Bibby Stockholm barge is 'safe'
The first asylum barge has cost taxpayers more than £500,000 over the past month, new figures claimed.
The charity Reclaim the Sea said hiring the Bibby Stockholm from Bibby Marine Limited and mooring it at Portland Port cost £24,500 a day.
This means the vessel – which has been empty for almost a month after the discovery of legionella disease – has cost over £560,000 since it arrived in Dorset.
Some 51,000 asylum seekers are currently staying in hotels across the UK, costing taxpayers around £6m a day.
But Britain’s broken asylum system is costing taxpayers £3.966 billion a year, with the asylum backlog currently sitting at 175,000.
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Ministers believe housing asylum seekers on barges and in former military accommodation will drastically reduce the bill for taxpayers.
Shadow immigration minster Stephen Kinnock told LBC: “The government are casting around for any way of getting people into emergency accommodation.
“But what they should really being doing is recruiting more case workers and decision makers to the Home Office so that these claims can get processed.
“That means getting into the backlog, recruiting the right kind of asylum case workers and decision makers to get that backlog cleared and get people out of hotels.”
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said asylum seekers could return to the Bibby Stockholm “within weeks” if safety tests show no cause for concern.
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The 39 men were briefly housed on the Bibby Stockholm, berthed in Portland Port, Dorset, before traces of Legionella bacteria were found.
They were taken off and moved to a hotel while tests were being conducted on the vessel’s water system.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain with hotel accommodation costing an unacceptable £6million a day.
“The Home Office is committed to making every effort to reduce hotel use and limit the burden on the taxpayer.
“This is why we have been looking at a range of alternative accommodation sites, including vessels which have been used safely and successfully by Scottish and Dutch Governments, and former military sites.”
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