It is understood that there are 22 asylum seekers currently on board the Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port. Using One Life to Live’s modelling of the costs of the barge, this means that the cost of an overnight stay on the barge, per head, is currently £2,330.07. The Home Office is using the barge in order to “cut the cost” of accommodating asylum seekers in hotels, where the current average cost is £109.80.
Clearly, therefore, moving people to the barge ISN’T so far saving the British people money. In fact, it would be cheaper to put the asylum seekers up in a suite at the Savoy, with breakfast, and to treat them to a slap-up fish and chip supper at Langan’s brasserie.
It is not known if the barge can ever reach its full intended cohort of 506 asylum seekers, since it is understood that the barge has not been signed off as fire-safe. Meanwhile, the seven-and-a-half-week delay in getting people on board has already wasted £2,698,629.81 of money from the public purse.
The hotel suite at the Savoy and dinner at Langan’s brasserie
According to Booking.com, at 580 sq ft and “quietly overlooking the courtyard or the city”, the hotel suite at the Savoy would be “decorated in elegant Edwardian or sophisticated Art Deco style … with an entrance foyer leading to a sitting-room, bedroom, and bathroom”. It would feature a well-stocked minibar and a coffee machine, along with free toiletries, a bathrobe and slippers.
The suite costs £2,250 per night, with a ‘superb’ breakfast costing £40.00 – bringing the total overnight bed and breakfast stay to £2,290.
The golden beer-battered fish and chips with tartare sauce and mushy peas at Langan’s brasserie costs £28.00, and hand-cut chips cost £6.50 – bringing the total meal to £34.50.
Comparison with Bibby Stockholm – costs per head, per night
- Bed and board on Bibby Stockholm (based on 22 people on board) = £2,330.07
- Savoy Hotel suite plus Savoy breakfast plus dinner at Langan’s = £2,324.50
- Saving if using the Savoy and Langan’s = £5.57
The overall daily cost of the barge is a minimum of £18,710, 500, although this does not yet include an array of costs which are known to exist but where the amounts are still unknown. Not least of these will be the cost of dilapidations at the end of the contract, and the cost to the government of defending court cases including the judicial review (on planning grounds) to be brought by Portland’s mayor, Carralyn Parkes, as announced on 9 August 2023.
The government’s entire strategy for the barge is that it is meant to be cheaper per head than hotels, although One Life to Live disproved this in a comprehensive briefing published on 11 July 2023. This took open-source data, FOI request responses, existing knowledge about other sites, and information from confidential sources to show that – with its full cohort of 506 asylum seekers on board – the barge will cost MORE per head, per night, than hotels.
Using that data model, One Life To Live can calculate the barge costs for any number of inhabitants.