Migrants could be housed in cruise ships under new plans

Rwanda: Suella Braverman hits back at Labour criticism

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Home Secretary Suella Braverman confirmed her department is looking at the idea and said officials were in talks with ship companies.

The move is one of a number of measures being considered to deal with the migrant crisis which costs taxpayers £5 million a day in hotel costs alone.

More than 45,000 migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year.

Ms Braverman told peers “everything is still on the table and nothing is excluded”.

She also slammed Home Office staff for being too slow to process asylum claims as she revealed they completed just one a week.

She also revealed that accommodation and support costs for asylum seekers would balloon to £3.5 billion next year.

The Home Secretary said caseworkers handling asylum cases had to speed up to help slash a 100,000-strong backlog and reduce a multi-million-pound hotel bill.

Rishi Sunak last week pledged to clear the jam by the end of 2023 under plans to get the immigration system functioning again.

Facing the House of Lords’ Justice and Home Affairs Committee, Ms Braverman refused to rule out housing migrants on disused cruise ships to cut costs.

She discussed the “incredibly difficult”challenge of hitting the ambition of getting 100,000 asylum seekers in local authority accommodation – as opposed to resorting to hotels – with that figure currently at 57,000.

“You then asked about cruise ships, we want to end the use of hotels as quickly as possible because it’s an unacceptable cost to the taxpayer, it’s over £5 million a day on hotel use alone,” she said.

“We will bring forward a range of alternative sites, they will include disused holiday parks, former student halls – I should say we are looking at those sites – I wouldn’t say anything is confirmed yet.

“But we need to bring forward thousands of places, and when you talk about vessels all I can say is – because we are in discussion with a wide variety of providers – that everything is still on the table and nothing is excluded.”

Turning her sights on Home Office caseworkers, Ms Braverman said the number of asylum claims being processed needs to be ramped up.

“There is a large amount of transformation that we want to embark upon when it comes to asylum caseworking and processes related to that,” she said.

“I should say just for context, what I have found during my few months here at the Home Office is that we have very different practices. Our asylum caseworking team do a great job but their productivity frankly is too low.

“The average decision-making rate of a decision-maker per week is one. We need to increase that considerably.”

Ms Braverman also suggested she is yet to find a new airline to deport people to Rwanda after Privilege Style pulled out.

She told the Committee: “We have a lot of ongoing discussions with several airlines.

“We are returning people almost every week to various countries around the world. We do that through scheduled flights, we charter flights so we’re in a variety of discussions with several airlines for lots of different destinations.

“When it comes to Rwanda, at the moment the delivery of Rwanda is on pause, it’s on hold while we’re going through litigation.”

Earlier this week Ms Braverman said she was committed to sending migrants to Rwanda as soon as possible after High Court judges ruled the Government’s multi-million pound plan to give migrants who cross the Channel to the UK a one-way ticket to the east African nation was lawful.

But Downing Street admitted it was impossible to say when flights could take off while the threat of further legal action remained.

The first deportation flight, which was due to take off on 14 June, was grounded following a series of objections from lawyers for several asylum seekers, along with the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and charities Care4Calais and Detention Action.

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