Robert Jenrick, who is the UK's immigration minister

Claim Scotland does not house refugees is False

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick was questioned in the House of Commons on Tuesday about the illegal migration bill by SNP MP Alison Thewliss. 

In his response to criticism about the cost of the UK Government’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda, Newark MP Jenrick claimed that the SNP government in Scotland was failing in its duty to house refugees. 

I am delighted that the honourable Lady celebrated Refugee Week. I do not know if any refugees came to it, because the SNP does not house refugees in Scotland.

Robert Jenrick MP

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it False


The debate between Thewliss and Jenrick came after an impact assessment on the UK Government’s illegal migration bill was released. This estimated the cost of sending some asylum seekers to Rwanda at £169,000 per person, which led to criticism from opposition parties. 

Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss criticised the policy as “cruel Tory ideology”, to which Jenrick claimed that “the SNP does not house refugees in Scotland”. 

This is not an accurate statement. 

There are various ways in which people can gain refugee status in the UK and Scotland. The most common way is when a person applies for asylum after they are already in the country, after travelling to the UK through regular routes, or irregular routes, such as small boat crossings in the English Channel.

Statistics on the number of people seeking asylum are regularly published by the UK Government, and data is also broken down by UK nations and local authority areas. 

Statistics published in May 2023 show that a total of 5,210 people were being supported in Scotland at the end of 2022 while going through the asylum system. The vast majority of these were in Glasgow, which is Scotland’s asylum dispersal area. It had 70 people seeking asylum per 10,000 population, the highest in the UK. Across Scotland, eight people were in the asylum system per 10,000 head of population. 

The majority of those seeking asylum in the UK are in England, with about 100,000 people in the asylum system there. The Home Office has previously said councils in Scotland “need to step up and play their part” in housing people seeking asylum.

Scotland also takes in refugees from the UK Government’s official resettlement schemes. The latest statistics show 127 people were resettled in Scotland between the first quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023.

A significant number of refugees from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have also been resettled in Scotland. The latest figures from the UK Government found more than 20,000 people had arrived in the UK after being sponsored by individuals in Scotland and the Scottish Government. 

The asylum system is reserved to the UK Government, which means the Scottish Government has limited powers to affect wider policy around those who come to the UK seeking asylum who come to the UK.

In response to an evidence request from Ferret Fact Service, A Home Office spokesperson said it had “been clear that the use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable and we are committed to making every effort to reduce hotel use and limit the burden on the taxpayer.”

Ferret Fact Service verdict: False

Robert Jenrick’s claim that Scotland does not house refugees is not correct. Recent statistics show thousands of refugees have been homed in Scotland or are being supported while going through the asylum system. 

This claim is false

Photo credit: Stuart Graham, CC0 1.0

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