Asylum: Military Bases

Home Office written question – answered on 18 January 2021.

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Photo of Wendy Chamberlain Wendy Chamberlain Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Wales), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Scotland), Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 11 January 2021 to Question 130841, what progress she has made on timescales for the relocation of asylum seekers at the Penally Camp; and what assessment she has made of the safety of that camp.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The current global pandemic has presented us with significant challenges when it comes to the provision of asylum accommodation, including sourcing sufficient suitable accommodation to meet demand.

The use of hotels and wider government facilities are a short-term measure and we are working to move people to longer-term dispersal accommodation as soon as it becomes available.

Following a review of available government property, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) agreed to temporarily hand over two of their sites: the Penally Training Camp in Pembrokeshire and the Napier Barracks in Kent. These sites were immediately available to be used to house asylum seekers and are safe, secure, habitable, fit for purpose and correctly equipped in line with existing contractual requirements for asylum accommodation.

The Home Office have undertaken a number of assessments at the Penally Camp; Equality Impact, Fire, Evacuation controls/plans and Infection controls – including for Covid 19. A rapid review of asylum accommodation was undertaken with the assistance of Human Applications who conducted a ‘deep dive’ on our approach to initial accommodation during the coronavirus pandemic. We continue to work closely with the Welsh Health leads and if necessary, conduct an internal evaluation of asylum support provision in Penally with any recommendations being actioned accordingly.

It remains our intention to move all individuals in contingency accommodation into suitable dispersed accommodation as soon as reasonably practical, we are hoping to commence moves for small numbers of people out from week commencing 18th January, however our immediate priority is to ensure that we continue to meet our legal duty to house destitute asylum seekers and ensure their safety and wellbeing.

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