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Questions for Home Office on conditions at Bibby Stockholm

2 February 2024

Following a visit to the Bibby Stockholm asylum barge, the Home Affairs Committee has written to the Home Office. In the correspondence, the Committee raises a number of questions around the conditions which asylum seekers are held in and the quality of support for those on the barge.

The Bibby Stockholm barge is moored in Portland and has housed asylum seekers since August 2023. It is part of the Government’s strategy to provide value for money in the asylum system, in particular the high cost of hotel accommodation. Concerns have been raised around conditions on the barge and the impact this has on those living there.

The Home Affairs Committee visited the barge earlier this month, and has now written to the Home Office seeking further information. Questions include how those housed on the barge are chosen, how long they are held there and what access they have to support services. It also asks what consultation has taken place with local communities and what criteria govern whether asylum seekers can be granted the right to work.

Chair's comment

Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Diana Johnson said:

“Beyond the question of whether housing asylum seekers on a barge instead of hotels is actually value for money, which we are still seeking further information on from the Home Office, we need to know that they are living in conditions that are not detrimental to their wellbeing. We are concerned that housing asylum claimants on Bibby Stockholm is leaving them in a claustrophobic environment, isolated from external support including legal advice and without important links to community, faith or family potentially for months on end.

The Government must not forget that those seeking asylum could have experienced severe trauma. They are vulnerable young men who will be in need of critical help. There needs to be readily accessible assistance available to deal with the medical and mental health consequences of what they have been through. Support services on the barge must be adequate to meet the needs of those housed there, and if not that there are practical steps in place to allow them to be accessed in the wider community.”

Further information

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