Home Office embarrassed by asylum home surplus

    A significant number of homes earmarked for asylum seekers are
    empty but still being paid for by the taxpayer, the Home Office
    admitted this week, writes Amy
    Taylor
    .

    The government has transferred some of the homes to local
    authorities and private landlords but some of them do not have
    contracts that contain break clauses to enable the National Asylum
    Support Service to stop payments for empty properties.

    There are rumoured to be 25,000 empty homes costing more than
    £100m a year. The five year local authority contracts are due
    to finish in 2005.

    A home office spokesperson said that since the start of this year
    NASS has been working to reduce it accommodation. He said that some
    of the contracts allowed the government to reduce the numbers of
    beds but that others did not. “In the future they [the Home
    Office] will look to put breaks in the contract,” he
    said.

    He said that the empty homes were due to the number of people
    applying for asylum falling by 60 per cent over the past 18 months.
    Government figures show that from October 2002 – the end of
    March 2004 the level fell from 22,760 to 8, 940.

    The revelation came in a memo alleged to be from a Downing Street
    meeting on 30 March 2004 that was leaked to the press.

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