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Bexhill: factsheet

Updated 24 November 2023

Update on the Northeye site at Bexhill

Where is Bexhill and why are you considering it?

The Home Office conducted thorough site assessments at several locations to identify suitable facilities, of which Bexhill was selected.

The Northeye Residential and Training Establishment is on the outskirts of Bexhill.

Work is ongoing to bring forward a facility at Bexhill, as part of our wider efforts to relieve pressure on the asylum system

The Home Office is now also exploring the use of the Bexhill site for detention purposes and assessments are being undertaken to consider the feasibility.

We are working closely with local stakeholders, other government departments and our contractors to ensure the facility is delivered in a way which minimises the impact on the local community.

Further information will be provided in multi-agency forums with key stakeholders.

What is an immigration detention facility?

An immigration detention facility is a facility compliant with the Detention Centre Rules 2001.

The Illegal Migration Act provides the Home Office with the power to detain and promptly remove those who arrive in the UK illegally, either to their home country or a safe third country.

Questions: site specific

What is Bexhill?

Northeye Residential and Training Establishment is on the outskirts of Bexhill.

The Home Office is working on proposals which could transform the current site into suitable accommodation for asylum seekers in response to the increasing pressures on the UK asylum system.

We are working closely with stakeholders, including OGDs and our contractors, to ensure that any accommodation which could be provided for those seeking asylum is suitable.

By designing the site to be as self-sufficient as possible, the proposals would minimise the impact on local communities and services.

Who will be accommodated at Bexhill?

We have been exploring proposals to utilise this site to accommodate asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute. Under sections 95 and 98 of the Immigration Act 1999, the Home Secretary has a statutory obligation to provide destitute asylum seekers with accommodation.

The vast majority of those arriving via small boat are single adult males with the government under a legal obligation to accommodate those who would be otherwise be destitute. However, because we do not yet have a confirmed suite of plans, no decision has been made on precise cohort at the Bexhill site. Whoever is accommodated will have been through security checks that includes safeguarding and Police checks and checks against international databases.

Why Bexhill?

This Government is taking action to address the unacceptable costs of housing migrants in hotels, which is costing the taxpayer around £6 million a day. Bexhill has been identified as an alternative to hotels as a site that is suitable for the purposes of asylum seeker accommodation. Alternative large sites such as surplus military land and this site at Bexhill are not only more affordable for taxpayers than hotels, but also more manageable and orderly than hotels for communities, thanks to healthcare and catering facilities on site, 24/7 security and purpose-built basic accommodation. The sites would open up jobs and investment to local areas through employment roles on site, for example through catering and maintenance roles.

These sites on their own will not end the use of hotels, but they will relieve pressure on communities and manage asylum seekers in a more appropriate and cost-effective way, reducing incentives for people to travel through safe countries and bringing us in line with the approach being taken by other countries around Europe.

Has a final decision been made on the asylum accommodation site at Bexhill?

No final decision has been taken to use the site.

We continue to work on proposals to use the site at Bexhill as an asylum accommodation site.

How long will asylum seekers be accommodated there?

As proposals for the site develop, we are assessing how long asylum seekers should be accommodated there.

Proposals include the possibility for those housed to be moved depending on the continued suitability of the individual to be onsite or on the conclusion of their asylum application.

How many asylum seekers will be housed at Bexhill?

If a decision is made to progress using the site for non-detained asylum accommodation, we will undertake works at the site and only after the site is legally compliant and ready for use would we start to accommodate asylum seekers. We would increase capacity in phases over several months to reach an operating capacity of c.1200 people, regularly reviewing the numbers and use of the site.

What about local people living near Bexhill?

By designing the site to be as self-sufficient as possible, we would minimise the impact on local communities and services. This includes consideration of impacts to the community during both construction and operational phases.

Proposals include providing onsite recreational and cultural activities to occupy residents.

As proposals develop, we continue to work closely with local political leaders and their officials and other local partners to manage any impact on the local area.

Similar Home Office sites make significant contributions to the local economy and have offered employment opportunities in the broader community.

Are people able to come and go as they please?

If a decision is made to use the site for non-detained asylum accommodation, those living at the site would be free to come and go but would be expected to be on site overnight.

If a resident were not back on site by 11pm the team would make a courtesy call to the individual to ensure they are all right and do not need assistance. This would not be under curfew conditions; it would be based on following up on the safety and welfare of the individual.

Proposals would include providing onsite recreational and cultural activities to occupy residents to minimise impact on existing facilities within the local area.

How much is this going to cost the UK taxpayer?

The use of contingency accommodation for asylum seekers (plus Afghan families on resettlement schemes), such as hotels, is costing the taxpayer £6 million a day.

Plans to develop these large-scale sites would ensure suitable and cost- effective accommodation is provided for people seeking asylum.

Is this suitable for accommodating people?

We have a legal obligation to provide destitute asylum seekers with accommodation.

We are committed to securing the welfare of asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute and keep our processes under constant review.

The proposals currently under investigation for Bexhill are to provide safe, secure and fit for purpose accommodation.

Onsite facilities would be designed to ensure the essential needs of those accommodated there are met.

There would be robust processes in place to assess and manage the requirements of anyone who would be accommodated at the site.

We would work with the service provider and local transport companies to ensure anyone housed at the site would be able to obtain all their essential needs onsite.

Will vulnerable people be housed at Bexhill?

We would carefully assess every individual’s suitability to reside at Bexhill, using a robust screening process to ensure that it would only accommodate individuals who are considered suitable to reside there.

Each person’s suitability would be assessed at regular intervals.

All asylum seekers in the UK may contact Migrant Help 24 hours a day, 365 days a year if they need help, advice, or guidance, that includes raising issues relating to safeguarding.

Who is running Bexhill?

Proposals currently being looked at are for the site to be operated on behalf of the Home Office by an existing asylum accommodation provider.

Further information will be shared as proposals for the site develop.

When will the site at Bexhill open?

Further information will be shared as proposals are developed.

It would be our intention to use a phased approach to developing Bexhill, gradually increasing the number of individuals accommodated at the site as time goes on.

How will this impact local health services?

For all sites, we are considering the impact on local services including the NHS, police and fire services and working with local partners to develop bespoke plans that take account of local environmental issues, heritage and any inherent risks associated with each site. This includes on-site healthcare provision to limit pressures on local NHS services. All sites will have 24/7 security.

What kind of security measures will be put in place?

To ensure security forms an integral part of the proposed site, a specialist security provider will be working on site, introducing measures such as mobile CCTV units.

The project is committed to working together with the Sussex Police team to ensure appropriate security measures are in place as part of operational delivery.

Transport arrangements?

Transport off the site would be provided by the Service Provider to ensure the orderly flow of people.

Questions: large sites general

What happens to migrants once they arrive in the UK via small boat?

Small boat crossings are dangerous, unnecessary, and put lives at risk. There have been appalling and preventable tragedies in the Channel which must stop.

We aim to deter illegal entry to the UK, break the business model of people smugglers and protect the lives of those they endanger.

From 14 April 2022, the Ministry of Defence took the lead in operations in the Channel which allows Border Force to use their surveillance expertise and to continue collaboration with their French counterparts to prevent crossings.

Migrants are intercepted by vessels chartered for the purpose and brought to facilities in Dover to begin processing their asylum claims.

Full screening of people’s identity, security checks, initial asylum screening and processing is undertaken at the Western Jet Foil in Dover and Manston, Kent.

Migrants are then securely moved to suitable accommodation locations as quickly as possible.

What are large scale accommodation sites?

The introduction of new asylum accommodation large sites will look to provide safe, suitable, and more cost-effective accommodation for asylum seekers. In doing so, they will help to end the government’s use of hotels to accommodate migrants who have entered the UK illegally.

General top lines

The unprecedented and unacceptable rise in dangerous small boat crossings continues to put huge pressure on the UK’s broken asylum system.

The sharp increase in crossings means about 49,000 destitute migrants are currently being accommodated in hotels, additionally nearly 10,000 individuals in hotels under the Afghan resettlement schemes – costing the taxpayer almost £6 million a day.

This severe pressure on the system means claims from genuine asylum seekers are taking too long to process and is taking away from resources to support people through safe and legal routes to the UK.

The aim is to fix this broken asylum system, allowing us to support those in genuine need while preventing abuse of the system and deterring illegal entry to the UK.