A defiant hotel owner declined an “obscene amount of money” offered by the Home Office to close her establisment so that it could be used to house asylum seekers.
Dee Allen, who runs Hatters Hotel with her husband in Skegness, Lincolnshire, said she was offered £10,000 a week in September 2021 to house 52 refugees for at least three months – but refused as she believed it would have a “negative” impact on the area.
Mrs Allen, 35, claimed the Government made her the same “obscene” offer in October this year, but she refused for the same reason.
“We said at the time that we would never, ever do that to the community,” Mrs Allen said.
“They were also saying to us that it would be for an indefinite amount of time, not for just three months. They came back to us about four weeks ago and made us the same offer but we said no, because our morals just wouldn’t allow it.
“We’ll plough through and if we fall on the ground and hit rock bottom, that will be it. We will never, ever, ever accept the money.
“We’d rather die, I think.”
But at least five hotels in the coastal town have reportedly accepted the Home Office’s offer to house asylum seekers, reports Lincolnshire Live.
Matt Warman, Conservative MP for Skegness and Boston, said the situation was the result of the immigration system “creaking at the seams” and stated the town was “not the best place” for asylum seekers to be housed in hotel accomodation.
Mrs Allen, who bought her hotel in the south of the town 18 months ago, fears the situation will have negative impact on the wider tourism industry.
“There are going to be no holidaymakers coming here because there’ll be no hotels that can take them. It’s going to turn into an absolute shambles,” Mrs Allen said.
She added it was “heartwrenching” to see what the people of Skegness were “going through” and the impact it was having on the “tight-knit” community.
The Home Office says that using hotels to accommodate asylum seekers is “unacceptable” and labels it as a “short-term solution”.
A spokesperson said previously: “The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain.
“The use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable – there are currently more than 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels costing the UK taxpayer £5.6million a day. The use of hotels is a short-term solution and we are working hard with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation.”
Serco is contracted by the government to provide accommodation for the asylum seekers entering the UK and claims that the use of hotels is a “last resort”.
Jenni Halliday, Serco’s contract director for asylum accommodation services, said: “With the significant increases in the number of people arriving in the UK we have been faced with no alternative but to temporarily accommodate some asylum seekers in hotels.
“These hotels are only used as a last resort but as a provider of accommodation services on behalf of the Home Office we have a responsibility to find accommodation for the asylum seekers that are being placed in our care. The Serco team is working extremely hard to move people into dispersed social housing as rapidly as possible.”