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Vessel to accommodate migrants

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.

Today (Wednesday 5 April), the Home Office has announced that an accommodation barge in Portland Port, Dorset will be used to reduce the unsustainable pressure on the UK’s asylum system and cut the cost to the taxpayer caused by the significant increase in Channel crossings. Currently hotel accommodation for asylum seekers is costing £6 million a day.

This is an important step in progressing the Prime Minister and Home Secretary’s priority to stop the boats. Last week the government announced that surplus military sites will also be used to accommodate migrants who have entered the UK illegally on small boats. This is part of the wider efforts to secure alternative, more appropriate accommodation than expensive hotels. This comes alongside the return of the landmark Illegal Migration Bill, which is designed to stop the Channel crossings by ending illegal entry to the UK and ensuring that those who do come here illegally will be detained and swiftly removed.

The barge, called the Bibby Stockholm, will be berthed in Portland Port and will accommodate about 500 single adult males whilst their asylum claims are processed. It will provide basic and functional accommodation, and healthcare provision, catering facilities and 24/7 security will be in place on board, to minimise the disruption to local communities. People whose claims are refused and have exhausted their appeal rights will be removed from the UK.

The use of vessels for accommodation brings the UK in line with other countries around Europe, for example in the Netherlands where migrants have successfully been accommodated on vessels. The Scottish Government have also used vessels for Ukrainian refugees.

Migrants are due to be moved onto the Bibby Stockholm in the coming months. The Home Office is in discussions with other ports and further vessels will be announced in due course.


Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said:

The Home Secretary and I have been clear that the use of expensive hotels to house those making unnecessary and dangerous journeys must stop. We will not elevate the interests of illegal migrants over the British people we are elected to serve.

We have to use alternative accommodation options, as our European neighbours are doing – including the use of barges and ferries to save the British taxpayer money and to prevent the UK becoming a magnet for asylum shoppers in Europe.

All accommodation will meet our legal obligations and we will work closely with the local community to address their concerns, including through financial support.

Chief Executive of Portland Port, Bill Reeves, said:

We are keen to play our part in the national effort to house some of the thousands of people needing accommodation.

We encourage everyone in the community to approach this with an open mind and help us show other areas just how successful this type of initiative can be, both for the migrants and the local community.

There will be close co-operation with local agencies, including the health and emergency services during the preparations for the vessel’s arrival and its operation. We will also work closely with local community and voluntary groups.


Bibby Stockholm will be operational for at least 18 months and stay berthed in the port during that time.

Use of alternative accommodation such as vessels are not only more cost effective than hotels, but they are more manageable and orderly for communities and offers employment opportunities in the broader area to support the vessel.

We are working closely with Portland Port, the local authority and key partners to make sure appropriate arrangements are in place, including liaising with local police.

The government recognises that using alternative sites and vessels involves difficult decisions, but urgent action is needed to reduce expensive hotel use, with the sites providing much needed accommodation.

Link:, dated April 5, 2023 3:18 pm

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