More refugees are set to be housed at hotels in the city, despite dozens of asylum-seekers going missing, The Argus can reveal.

Capacity at two hotels in Hove housing those seeking asylum in the UK has been increased significantly by the Home Office. It comes as the government looks to reduce the use of such sites to house migrants.

A hotel being used to accommodate families will have its capacity expanded by almost 50 per cent, from 94 beds to 138.

A hotel housing adult male asylum seekers in Hove will also see its number of beds almost double, from 53 to 101.

A third hotel in Hove has seen dozens of vulnerable children go missing, with Hove MP Peter Kyle raising concerns in Parliament that the vulnerable refugees may have been “coerced into crime”.

The Argus can reveal that of the 139 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children reported missing to Sussex Police, 50 still remain unaccounted for.

In a letter to Hove MP Peter Kyle, seen exclusively by The Argus, the Home Office said that the increase in capacity was “immediate… to reduce the need for more hotels and deliver the best value for money for the taxpayer”.

The letter read: “The Home Secretary and Immigration Minister have been clear that the use of hotels is inappropriate and that we must reduce our reliance on them as a form of temporary accommodation.

“As part of this shift, the government announced a range of measures to reduce our reliance on hotels to house asylum seekers and find more suitable forms of accommodation. This included the use of disused military sites and vessels, plus increased financial incentives for dispersal accommodation.

“The Home Office is constantly challenging our accommodation suppliers to make best use of available asylum accommodation to reduce the need for more hotels and deliver the best value for money for the taxpayer.

“In order to deliver this, we are working closely with our accommodation providers to optimise the existing space within the existing hotel estate.

“Our aim in doing this is to work towards fewer hotels being used to accommodate asylum seekers.

“Since we started using the hotels (in Hove), additional capacity has been identified. We recognise this may cause some concern. I would like to assure you that we will be doing this in line with all relevant statutory and legal requirements.

“We are working closely with our providers to ensure appropriate provisions are in place to manage additional residents.

“We remain committed to working with Brighton and Hove City Council to mitigate the impact on local services and the wider community and have written to the chief executive to inform them of this.”


Mr Kyle described the move as a “disgrace”.

He said: “We know this government treats the public like we are all stupid and this proves it.

“Do they seriously think they can sell to the residents of Hove that they are reducing use of hotels for asylum seekers while increasing occupancy by nearly 100 per cent.

“I shall be writing to the Home Office to ask whether this increase compromises the safety of those in the hotels and if it means rooms will be stuffed full of vulnerable people.”

The Argus: Peter Kyle and Bella Sankey have both slammed the move by the Home OfficePeter Kyle and Bella Sankey have both slammed the move by the Home Office (Image: The Argus)

Councillor Bella Sankey, leader of Brighton and Hove City Council and former director of refugee charity Detention Action, slammed the move, which has coincided with Refugee Week, a worldwide festival which marks the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees.

“Rishi Sunak’s idea of celebrating Refugee Week is to expand the inappropriate use of hotels to accommodate people fleeing persecution in Brighton and Hove," she said.

“We have survivors of unspeakable violence being left in limbo for over a year, not knowing if they are going to be protected and unable to live independent and dignified lives as a result of this government’s cruelty and incompetence.

“Our council will provide as much support as we can to those on the sharp end of the hostile environment.”

'Our priority is to stop the boats'

The Argus: Home Secretary Suella Braverman on a visit to Brighton earlier this yearHome Secretary Suella Braverman on a visit to Brighton earlier this year (Image: Sussex Police)

The Home Office told The Argus that commercial contracts are designed to ensure the best value for taxpayers and they are working closely with partners to listen to the views of communities to reduce the impact of sites, including through providing onsite security and financial support.

A spokesman from the Home Office said: “We have been clear that the use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable - there are currently more than 51,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £6 million a day.

“We are safely and legally optimising the use of existing space to make more efficient use of hotels to save taxpayer money whilst continuing to ensure arrangements are safe for hotel residents and local people.

“The unacceptable number of people risking their lives by making these dangerous crossings is placing an unprecedented strain on our asylum system.

“Our priority is to stop the boats, and our Small Boats Operational Command is working alongside our French partners and other agencies to disrupt the people smugglers.

“The government has gone further by introducing legislation which will ensure that those people arriving in the UK illegally are detained and promptly removed to their country of origin or a safe third country.”

Dozens of asylum-seekers still missing, police confirm

Sussex Police confirmed that, since July 2021, 139 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have been reported missing, with 50 still unaccounted for.

Of those, 38 have since turned 18.

One of the children was reported missing this year.

A police spokesman said: "Sussex Police has a dedicated unit within its Missing Persons’ team focused solely on locating missing unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

"When people go missing, our primary role is to investigate the circumstances including assessing if they are vulnerable or could have been a victim of crime. If risks to their safety are identified, we and other appropriate parties will take action to safeguard them.

"Once a person is located, where criminality is associated with either the initial disappearance or subsequent harbouring of those wishing to remain missing, Sussex Police will assess and take positive action as appropriate.

"We continue to work with the Home Office to help put prevention measures in place, including multi-agency safeguarding meetings with other partners, to ensure that, when people are reported missing, we have the best opportunity to locate them."