Author: CHRIS RICHES
The ex-Labour MP has written to Home Secretary Sajid Javid warning of “catastrophic failure” over the “disproportionate” number of asylum seekers his region receives. One in six people in the UK waiting to find out if they will be given refugee status is placed in Greater Manchester, which supports 6,681 asylum seekers – a 102 per cent increase since 2003. But 180 areas across the UK – including Prime Minister Theresa May’s local authority of Maidenhead – house none at all.
Mr Burnham is threatening to withdraw his region from voluntary placement programmes unless asylum seekers are distributed more equally.
He also said the current Home Office approach jeopardises the Asylum Accommodation Support Transformation dispersal contracts set to launch next year.
The new contracts – worth more than £4billion over 10 years – are currently out to tender.
Mr Burnham wrote: “For too long, asylum dispersal has been imposed on Greater Manchester with little heed paid to cohesion or large numbers.
“It cannot be right that towns have more asylum seekers clustered in a handful of wards than entire regions in the rest of the country.
“The prospect of this continuing for another 10 years is completely unacceptable.
“It will harm communities and be of no benefit to those who are asked to live within them.”
The Home Office said it was working with local authorities in the North-west “to deliver on our statutory obligation to house destitute asylum seekers whilst asylum claims are determined”.