Claims cash given to refugees dismissed

Exterior of Britannia Hotel, Almond Brook Road
Exterior of Britannia Hotel, Almond Brook Road

RUMOURS that refugees housed in a Wigan hotel are being given cash for taxi journeys have been slammed.

Serco, the company which finds accommodation for asylum seekers on behalf of the Home Office, has blasted local residents’ claims that those based at The Britannia Hotel in Standish are handed money in order to use for cab rides around the town.

Instead, bosses at the firm insists any transport arrangements, for necessities only, are made through them.

A spokesman from Serco said: “Serco is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of asylum seekers in our care and we routinely arrange transport for them to necessary appointments such as healthcare.

“Serco makes these arrangements directly with the providers and asylum seekers are not given cash to fund transportation under any circumstances.”

The claims came after the Prime Minister’s pledge to take in 20,000 refugees by 2020 was followed by the claim that the north will house more refugees than the affluent South East region.

But Mick Taylor, project coordinator at SWAP (Support for Wigan’s Arrivals Project), which oversees asylum seekers as they arrive in the borough, has backed Serco and assured residents extra money won’t be given for luxuries such as taxi rides.

He added: “I very much doubt that the refugees would be given any money at all for transport costs.

“Sometimes some organisations such as the Red Cross help with vital necessities but that’s as far as it goes.

“We work closely with Serco to help integrate asylum seekers into our society.”

Recently it emerged that 700 asylum-seekers are being temporarily housed across Wigan borough, including in flats in Scholes.

and rooms at the Britannia Hotel.

SWAP says it could cope with more if necessary but Greater Manchester’s interim mayor, Tony Lloyd, has said that his area is welcoming a disproportionately large number compared to many parts of the country and there should be a more even distribution to ease pressures on local services.

Home Office figures show that 5,143 asylum-seekers were placed in Greater Manchester in the first quarter of the year compared to just 823 in Greater London.

Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has vowed to do what she can to help house desperate refugees who are fleeing war-torn countries.

Following a call from Wigan Council for people to donate essentials to help Syrian refugees both in overseas camps and in Britain, she launched a petition - Refugees Welcome in Wigan - on Change.org