For the first time since the small boats crisis began, we are now closing asylum hotels, thanks to the good work done to reduce arrivals by more than a third; to the delivery of more appropriate forms of accommodation, such as on large disused military sites; and to better management of the existing permanent estate. I am pleased to report that the Home Office is making good progress on the first 50 hotels, which will exit by the end of January. We will be bringing forward a further tranche shortly.
When I first took this job, I was clear that the use of asylum hotels was completely unacceptable and that I would work with all in Government to ensure that we closed each and every one of them as quickly as possible. We are now in the process of closing those hotels. As I said in my opening remarks, the first 50 are closing seamlessly, so I expect to be in a position to announce the next set of hotel closures very soon.
No, I completely disagree with the hon. Gentleman. It is extremely important that we reduce the pull factors to the United Kingdom. There are already plenty of reasons why economic migrants would want to make a life in the UK. Enabling them to work as soon as they arrive here would only exacerbate those problems.
I am really pleased that the Government have been able to reduce the number of asylum seekers in hotels. The use of the Atlantic Hotel in Chelmsford for families is putting considerable pressure on our school places, especially as Chelmsford is already very short of school places due to the large numbers of people who have arrived from Ukraine and elsewhere. Will the Minister look again at the policy and ensure that when people with children of school age are placed in hotels, they are put in places where there are schools that have places?
My right hon. Friend and I have discussed this many times, and I want to ensure that that particular hotel is closed as quickly as possible, because it is having such an impact on her local community. The Home Office is working with her local authority, and we have made a commitment that we will not place further young people, or families with young people, in that hotel if school places are not readily available. However, I hope that the hotel itself will close very soon.
When asylum seekers requiring medical care are moved to a new location out of area, they go to the bottom of the waiting list, and as a result their health requirements are not met in a timely way. How will the Minister ensure that they do not slip back from receiving medical care that they urgently require?
When moving asylum seekers from one form of accommodation to another, we make provision to ensure that there is support for those with the most serious medical conditions, but it is important that we are able to move individuals around the estate, and we are currently in the process of closing hotels. That is our No. 1 priority, because the public want us to close them as quickly as possible.