The Home Office spent thousands of pounds in one month on Domino’s pizzas to feed migrants arriving in the UK after crossing the Channel from France, figures show.
Hundreds of pizzas were bought from the Dover branch of the fast food chain in July, 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.
It came as more crossings were under way on Friday.
The takeaways were provided while migrants were at Tug Haven – a short-term holding facility in Dover where they are first taken from the beach or sea.
The 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 migrants arrived in the UK after making the crossing from France, according to Home Office figures analysed by PA.
On multiple occasions that month several hundred migrants arrived in one day, with the highest number recorded on July 19, when there were 430 arrivals.
Since the start of the year, more than 17,000 migrants have succeeded in reaching the UK – double the figure for the whole of 2020.
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 in Folkestone, among other suppliers.
A sum of £3,960 was spent on “sun hats as requested by unions for staff and migrants at Tug Haven” and a further £3,229.76 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.”
Last year a watchdog said Tug Haven “resembled a rubble-strewn building site”.
Inspectors found that migrants “almost always” arrived wet and cold and then “often had to spend hours in the open air or in cramped containers”.
The then chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke, said: “Just because numbers are unprecedented, that does not mean they are unpredictable, or cannot be planned for”, adding that the arrangements at Tug Haven were not fit for even small numbers of arrivals.
At the time the Home Office said it was “fully adhering” to its statutory duties to ensure facilities are decent and humane, adding: “We take the welfare of people in our care extremely seriously.”