Published: 16:48, 08 October 2021
| Updated: 19:03, 08 October 2021
The Home Office spent thousands of pounds in one month on pizzas to feed asylum seekers who had just crossed the Channel, figures show.
Hundreds were bought from the Dover branch of Domino's Pizza in Pencester Road in July.
This is according to analysis of the government department’s spending by the PA news agency.
A disclosure log for Home Office procurement card transactions costing more than £500 for the four-week period contained five separate entries from UK Immigration Enforcement for such food orders, totalling £6,757.52 for July.
The takeaways were provided while asylum seekers were at Tug Haven in the Western Docks – a short-term holding facility after they are first taken from the beach or sea.
Tthe most expensive entry, £1,824, said: “This was an urgent need to feed a large number of migrants that had been on the Tug Haven compound in Dover for over 12 hours, and were likely to stay over 24 hours due to issues blocking their movement with resources and the IRC (immigration removal centre) estate.”
An entry for £1,789 said: “Purchased by Clandestine Operational Response Team (Cort) for use at Tug Haven where we have migrants arriving on small boats. Due to the high number of migrants arriving and the length of time they had not eaten, it was agreed to purchase 200 pizzas.”
Three other Domino’s Pizza entries – for £1,274.25, £1,000 and £870.27 – were listed as “hot food for migrants who had to stay overnight at Tug Haven.”
Neither the dates the purchases were made, nor the total number of pizzas bought, are disclosed in the documents and the Home Office said it could not provide the information.
Staff at the Domino’s branch said they could not discuss the matter when contacted by PA.
The orders came in a month when at least 3,510 asylum seekers arrived in the UK after making the crossing from France, according to Home Office figures analysed by PA.
Several times that that month hundreds of people arrived in one day, with the highest recorded on July 19 when there were 430.
Since the start of the year, more than 17,000 have succeeded in reaching the UK – double the figure for the whole of 2020.
More than 16,400 had arrived by September 24.
Several other entries showed hundreds of pounds being spent on provisions such as tea, coffee, milk and other refreshments for migrants at the Booker cash and carry wholesaler at the Park Farm Industrial Estate in Folkestone, among other suppliers.
A sum of £3,960 was spent on sun hats as requested by unions for staff and asylum seekers at Tug Haven and a further £3229.76 was used to buy blankets that month.
A Home Office spokesman said: “We are committed to delivering the best value for money for the British taxpayer. We ensure all spending is carefully scrutinised to make sure that every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent in the most effective way.”
Only today (Friday) independent inspectors criticised the use of Tug Haven.
The Dover Independent Monitoring Board said asylum seekers were kept in portable cabins and tents, or even a double-decker bus, in a car park,
It said there were poor arrangements for food, sleeping or washing.
The inspectors had visited the site in June and said that as several hundred people often came in a single day, many had to stay the night there, going to bed on the floor of a tent without sleeping mats.
The issue of asylum seekers coming to Kent has dragged on for decades but it has only been in the last three years they have arrived in small vessels, usually dinghies.
The preferred method before that was hiding in the backs of lorries coming from the Continent via Dover.
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