RAF Scampton entrance
RAF Scampton is set to house around 2,000 asylum-seekers.

Government confirms which military sites will house asylum-seekers

RAF Scampton entrance
RAF Scampton is set to house around 2,000 asylum-seekers.

The Government has announced that it will house asylum-seekers at two former military bases and a potential third.

The two confirmed sites are RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, which has previously been home to the RAF's Red Arrows and the 617 Dambuster Squadron, and MDP Wethersfield in Essex – up to 3,700 asylum-seekers will be housed across both sites.

Officials have said that further accommodation at Catterick Garrison, in the Prime Minister’s constituency, will be "brought forward" in due course.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told the Commons: "The Prime Minister is showing leadership on this issue by bringing forward proposals to provide accommodation at barracks in Catterick Garrison in his constituency."

Residents neighbouring RAF Scampton, which is to be used to house migrants have said they "don't feel secure" and feel they are "nothing" to the Government.

Homeowners next to the Lincolnshire base, who live in former military housing, say they have received "absolutely jack-shit" by way of communication from the Government about its plans to house migrants on the site.

Mr Jenrick said: "The Home Secretary and I have been clear that using expensive hotels for asylum-seekers is wholly unacceptable.

"Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites will provide cheaper and more orderly, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats.

"We understand the concerns of local communities and are working closely to listen to their views and reduce the impact of these sites, including through providing onsite security and financial support."

This comes as the Government previously said it spends £6.8m a day housing migrants in hotels, with extra demand created by thousands of people arriving in the UK after crossing the Channel.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly had already criticised plans to house asylum-seekers at MDP Wethersfield, which is in his Essex constituency.

Since the announcement in the Commons, Mr Cleverly acknowledged the decision to use the Wethersfield site in his seat "isn't the result my constituents and I wanted".

The Braintree MP said: "The Home Office has confirmed that the former MDP Wethersfield will become a temporary asylum reception centre.

"Although this decision isn't the result my constituents and I wanted, I have received assurances that community safety will remain paramount.

"I have made my views on the site clear from the beginning. My views, and those of local residents were taken into account by the Home Office and considerable mitigations for the local community will be put in place.

"That will include 24/7 security on site and new funding for local services," he added.

The BBC has reported that it understands more than 51,000 people are being housed in 395 hotels currently. 

Sir Edward Leigh, a Conservative MP in Lincolnshire, has on numerous occasions criticised the choice of RAF Scampton to house asylum-seekers.

Pressure on local areas

Ministers are also considering using a barge capable of holding hundreds of people, the paper reported, quoting a Government source as saying such accommodation would have a "deterrent effect" on people arriving in small boats.

Such vessels, typically used for offshore construction projects, have only basic facilities.

Disused cruise ships, empty holiday parks and former student halls have also been under consideration as alternatives to hotels.

Rishi Sunak told his Cabinet on Tuesday that the cost of the current approach and the pressure it puts on local areas meant it is not sustainable, according to a No 10 readout.

The Prime Minister also told the Commons Liaison Committee that children cannot be exempted from plans to detain people who cross the Channel in small boats to prevent the creation of a "pull factor".

Immigration Minister Mr Jenrick, however, told the Commons that children are not expected to be housed at disused military bases.

"These sites are going to be used for single adult males and will act as a serious deterrent to those people coming to this country," he said.

The Government's controversial asylum proposals laid out in the Illegal Migration Bill are currently being debated in Parliament.

The legislation aims to stop people claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means, including by crossing the English Channel in small boats.

It could result in asylum-seekers being detained without bail or judicial review for 28 days before being removed to their home country or a "safe third country" such as Rwanda.

An effective 'asylum ban'

The bill has been denounced by the UN's refugee agency as an effective "asylum ban".

A Government spokesperson said: "We have always been upfront about the unprecedented pressure being placed on our asylum system, brought about by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal journeys into the country.

"We continue to work across Government and with local authorities to identify a range of accommodation options.

"The Government remains committed to engaging with local authorities and key stakeholders as part of this process."

Related topics

Join Our Newsletter


Johnny Mercer praises wounded veterans competing at Veteran Games

MOD investigation after veteran says she was mocked by soldiers over her medals

Ukraine and Russia in escalating race for drone warfare domination