PRIVATE landlords in an Essex town are kicking out tenants to free up properties for refugees in a bid to take a greater payoff from the Home Office, a leading councillor has claimed. 

Julie Young, councillor responsible for housing, told October’s meeting of Colchester Council’s scrutiny panel the borough could soon be hosting as many as 500 refugees. 

She told the meeting: “Colchester does have more refugees than any other town, by a country mile. 

“While we are a welcoming town, it does leave us with a situation where we have a huge task on our hands to support those individuals.”

Ms Young said Marks Tey Hotel had welcomed an intake of 70 refugees, with around 220 more on the way. 

She said this intake will have an impact on “local schools, health facilities and the council”. 

She added: “Private landlords know they can get more money by making properties available to the Home Office. 

“What we’re seeing is an increase in the amount of evictions that are going on in the town, to free up those properties so they can get additional revenue.”

She told the meeting she believed the council will need to carry out “intense lobbying” of Government in a bid for more resources.

She added: “In terms of the refugees themselves, they are [given] two offers by the Home Office in terms of resettlement.

“If they don’t take those two offers, and those offers can be anywhere in the country, it falls to us to accommodate them at least for 56 days. 

“So we’re going to see a huge pressure on accommodation here in Colchester.”