Town still tops asylum-seeker league.
Byline: David Ottewell firstname.lastname@example.org
MIDDLESBROUGH continues to provide shelter for the highest proportion of asylum seekers of any town or city in the UK, new figures show.
At the end of March, the town had 832 asylum seekers in receipt of Government support - meaning one person in every 167 people living in Middlesbrough was a supported asylum seeker.
The level means it continues to be the only place to breach Government guidelines of one for every 200 residents.
Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd revealed in February that talks are being held with the Home Office over reducing the numbers.
Other towns and cities may have had more asylum seekers, but not as a proportion of their population.
Stockton had 879 asylum seekers - one in 221. The number was up 10% from the total of 793 just three months earlier.
Both areas have taken disproportionately high numbers of asylum seekers under a Government programme to "disperse" them around the country.
In the rest of the UK, it's a different story.
Across the country as a whole, there are more than 30,000 asylum seekers known to be in receipt of Section 95 support.
That is the money used to provide accommodation and life basics such as food.
There are 109 council areas where at least 10 asylum seekers are receiving that support. But there are around 100 others with between one and nine - and around 180 council areas with no supported asylum seekers at all.
They include places such as Cambridge, Harrogate, Lincoln, Scarborough, Warwick and York.
Across the UK as a whole, only one person in around 2,200 is a supported asylum seeker.
Middlesbrough and Stockton this week said they would not be accepting any refugees from war-torn Syria because of the high level of asylum seekers already in the two towns. However neighbouring Redcar and Cleveland is accepting 25 refugee families a year for the next five years - with the first families arriving this week.
The difference between refugees and asylum seekers is that refugees are granted refugee status before they come into the UK.
Asylum seekers are being granted leave to stay and live in the UK while they await a decision over whether they are allowed to stay.
The high levels of asylum seekers on Teesside has proved controversial.
Earlier this year housing firm Jomast - which provides homes for asylum seekers as a subcontractor for G4S - was criticised amid claims doors of asylum seekers had been painted red.
The firm denied asylum seekers had been actively targeted but later repainted the doors.
| Red doors on houses in Middlesbrough caused controversy earlier this year amid claims they marked out asylum seekers PETER REIMANN