Migrants facing eviction from Walthamstow hotel

Hundreds of migrants face an abrupt eviction from a Walthamstow hotel they have lived at for years.

In recent years, the Home Office has housed up to 400 people at the hotel while their asylum claims are waiting to be processed.

However, on January 18 residents received a letter from the government’s asylum seekers’ housing contractor Clearsprings Ready Homes saying their rooms would “no longer be available” from Friday January 26.

The company added: “We will aim to give you five days’ notice of your move, although on occasion this may be less”.

Those living at the hotel have been told they are “entitled” to bring two pieces of luggage per person to the new accommodation.

It remains unclear how far from Walthamstow residents will be moved, although Clearsprings said it would find “suitable alternative” housing within the Home Office-funded “initial accommodation estate”, which is usually hostels or hotels.

The Home Office is understood to have begun telling residents where they will be moved to overnight.

A spokesperson for Clearsprings – whose profits doubled to £62.5million last year (2021/22) – said it “would not” comment on a media enquiry about evicting asylum seekers.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We take the welfare of those in our care extremely seriously and at every stage in the process – from initial arrival to any potential relocations – our approach is to ensure that the needs and vulnerabilities of asylum seekers are identified and considered.

“We continue to provide safe accommodation for asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute, as we work to end the use of hotels which are costing UK taxpayers over £8 million a day.”

The spokesperson added that they do not “routinely” comment on individual cases.

Waltham Forest Council’s leader Grace Williams said: “We are very disappointed that around 400 asylum-seeking people staying in Waltham Forest have received letters from Clearsprings, the Home Office’s contractor, giving them just a few days’ notice to move.

“This is despite communication we received from the Home Office that hotels would not close until April.

“The news has understandably caused a huge amount of hassle and stress for vulnerable people who need our help.

“We do not yet know where they are being moved to. We have not been given details of the plan to continue supporting them.

“We consider them to be Waltham Forest residents who must be treated with compassion and respect.

“The timeframe makes decent planning and support virtually impossible. We have asked the Home Office for urgent assurances for each individual and family currently at the hotels.

“Waltham Forest has a proud tradition of welcoming people fleeing persecution and conflict. I know that residents will share my shock and sadness at how our guests have been treated.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure they have support at this difficult time, despite the Home Office’s seeming obliviousness to the distress this decision has caused.”

A Home Office spokesperson said:  “We are making significant progress with moving asylum seekers out of hotels, which cost UK taxpayers £8.2million a day.

“Accommodation is allocated on a no-choice basis and individuals may be moved to other locations in line with the Allocation of Accommodation guidance.

“We work closely with accommodation providers and local authorities to manage the exit process in a way which limits the impact on partners and individuals alike.”

A spokesperson for Clearsprings Ready Homes said: “We take the welfare of those we accommodate during their asylum process, very seriously.

“At this time we are not able to comment on individual matters but we can refer you to the Home Office press office for any input they may be able to provide.”

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter