Over 93m long and 3 storeys high, a barge that is set to house illegal immigrants under Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s controversial new scheme has been criticised for its ‘spiralling cost and onboard luxuries’.
While hotels for asylum seekers are reportedly costing the UK taxpayer a staggering estimated £6m per day, refugee campaign group Reclaim The Sea reported that chartering the vessel will cost £7.3m/year. However, this has been disputed by others, who claim the cost will be far higher, with the government needing to fund staff, security, food, and a wide range of other daily costs that running such a huge operation entail.
Factoring in other costs, Reclaim The Sea estimated that the barge would initially save less than £10 per migrant per day, but that those savings would probably be wiped out by extra costs such as dry dock delays and barge repairs.
Additionally, the barge will only house a maximum of 506 asylum seekers, meaning that a much larger fleet of barges will be needed to satisfy the demand of an ever-increasing rate of illegal immigrants arriving in Britain.
So far, Braverman has announced the purchase of two more barges, housing up to one thousand additional migrants. The government has refused to disclose the cost of leasing any of the vessels.
Images of the 93-meter-long vessel’s interior reveal a pool table, gym and ample living spaces, including a well-equipped kitchen area – but the government have confirmed that a bar inside the vessel will not serve alcohol.
Meanwhile, the government has been criticised over its apparent confused approach to addressing the ‘migrant crisis’, with Government departments recently found to be handing out more than £3million in taxpayer-funded grants to refugee charities and groups who simultaneously campaign against the Government’s own flagship Rwanda deportation scheme.
Worryingly, an Australian travel firm previously slammed for its handling of Covid quarantine hotels was quietly handed a £1.6bn contract overing the UK’s new asylum accommodation ships, The Independent reported earlier this year.
Corporate Travel Management (CTM) was put in charge of the lucrative two-year arrangement in February, weeks before the government revealed it would use a barge as its first offshore accommodation for asylum seekers.
The contract was awarded directly to CTM without competition, and a lawyer with knowledge of the system said the government had pushed a wider deal originally drawn up for official travel “beyond what it was intended to be used for”.
Thousands of asylum seekers could be housed in vessels moored as early as the end of this year. But sources have told The Guardian that discussions over the acquisition of further barges and disused cruise ships so they can house asylum seekers in Tyneside, Essex, Suffolk and near City Airport were already taking place.