temporary licensing requirements for asylum seeker accommodation scrapped

The Government has decided to scrap plans to temporarily remove licensing requirements for asylum seeker accommodation following a High Court challenge from refugees. This “last-minute” reversal by ministers came to light during a hearing in London, where a judge was scheduled to consider legal action brought by eight asylum seekers against the Home Office and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

During the hearing, it was revealed that the asylum seekers’ claims had been withdrawn as the Government chose not to pursue a policy of exempting asylum accommodation from houses in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing. This decision rendered the legal challenge “academic.”

Critics had previously expressed concerns that the proposed policy could compromise the safety of asylum seekers, particularly regarding heightened fire risks and overcrowding. Lawyers representing the asylum seekers argued that the draft secondary legislation was unlawful and would remove essential protections for asylum seeker accommodations.

The draft regulations were intended to speed up the process of moving asylum seekers out of hotels, according to Housing Minister Felicity Buchan. However, the plans faced condemnation from Labour MPs who argued that they would result in a lack of minimum standards for asylum housing.

Following the withdrawal of the legal challenge, Mrs. Justice Lang is expected to approve a final order confirming the end of the legal proceedings, and the legislation in question will be withdrawn by the Government.

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