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The Bibby Stockholm - At What Cost? 

11 July 2023


Our new report, co-published with One Life to Live, examines the true costs of the Bibby Stockholm barge which will cruelly contain 506 asylum-seekers at Portland Port. This is against the backdrop of the hotels ‘crisis’ and plans for the large-scale containment of asylum-seekers on further barges, ex-RAF stations and a former prison. 


The government factsheet about the Bibby Stockholm says


“A berthed vessel will, for the first time, accommodate asylum seekers in the UK. It will reduce the reliance on expensive hotels and deliver a more orderly, cost effective and sustainable asylum accommodation system.”


We don’t believe this vessel will do any of these things. And we believe that the human cost – to communities and asylum-seekers – isn’t worth it, at any price.


Key findings

  • The Bibby Stockholm will almost certainly be an additional cost and will therefore make no difference to either the cost of hotels or the number in use. Our most generous (to the Home Office) estimate is that the daily saving on the £5.6m hotel bill will be a trivial £4,694 – but in fact, given other currently known but currently unquantifiable costs, the barge is likely to be an additional cost, not a saving. 

  • We believe there is no ‘national emergency’ requiring the use of large-scale containment, other than of the Home Office’s own making due to the unprecedented backlog of asylum claims.

  • Just one day’s £5.6m hotel bill could pay for about 150 new asylum claim decision-makers. So why not? 

  • Despite its insistence that large-scale sites will slash the cost of hotels, the Home Office is not only failing to empty hotels but continuing to add new hotels all the time.

  • Huge contracts for managing asylum-seeker accommodation are awarded to firms with a history of making enormous profits from Home Office deals. In many cases (one worth £1.6bn), they are awarded without competitive tender.

  • Before any sites open, large-scale containment plans are in deep trouble. They are inhumane, expensive, and won’t end the use of hotels.

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