As the first group of asylum seekers arrives at Harben House Hotel in Newport Pagnell under the contentious settlement programme, the hotel’s owner remains tight-lipped about the financial gains from the Home Office agreement.

Using official government data, local newspaper the Milton Keynes Citizen has undertaken an analysis to uncover the daily cost incurred by the Home Office for each asylum seeker’s hotel accommodation.

Figures released in February 2023 reveal that more than 45,500 asylum seekers are housed in hotels, accounting for a staggering daily expenditure of £5.6 million.

The daily cost per individual asylum seeker is therefore approximately £123. With Harben House boasting 140 rooms, the total number of asylum seekers accommodated could surpass this figure, reaching around 200 individuals.

Some will share accommodation as families. while others will occupy individual rooms, although their gender has not been confirmed.

The potential for immense profitability

Housing 200 occupants each at £123 per day generates a possible daily revenue of £24,600. It is worth noting, however, that this sum could be lowered if occupants are lodging together and sharing rooms.

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Harben House’s owner, Siddharth Mahajan, head of Tulip Hotels and Real Estate Ltd, has declined to disclose his earnings from the Home Office arrangement.

When questioned, he responded: “I can’t answer that. I do not know. I am just the landlord and I employ Countrywide Hotels to run the place… I do not have that information.”

Mahajan, who recently acquired the hotel, also stated that Countrywide Hotels had managed the establishment for the past two years, during which it hosted refugee families from Afghanistan.

He asserted that his hotel is among more than 400 establishments in the UK engaged for comparable purposes.

The most recent financial statements of the company, submitted in November of last year, indicate that they possess tangible assets and investments valued at £761,685, outstanding debtor amounts of £178,005, and a cash balance of £8,009 held in the bank.

The broader landscape and government measures

Recent reports from the BBC have underscored how private corporations are amassing significant profits through government payments for housing asylum seekers. One booking agency has tripled its pre-tax profits within a year.

The Home Office has acknowledged the mounting strain on the asylum system and is committed to minimising reliance on hotels.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently unveiled strategies to tackle the predicament. She stated that asylum seekers will be accommodated through room-sharing across various hotels, a move projected to save £250 million annually.

She remarked: “We will continue to crack down on the abuse of our asylum system, ultimately saving the British taxpayer money.”

Mr. Mahajan’s company meanwhile executed a swift refurbishment to prepare for the new arrivals. Photographs showcase a skip at the rear of the hotel filled with discarded furniture and mattresses.

Security personnel are stationed at the entrance, and staff activity is evident, yet the lodgers thus far have remained discreetly within closed doors.