Call for local authorities to oversee asylum seeker housing

Housing scotland web

A decision on a contract worth up to £4 billion to house refugees in the UK will be made over the next few months

14th December 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Groups that work with refugees have joined forces to call for decisions on where families are housed to be made locally.

A total of 33 organisations from across the UK have asked the Home Secretary to ensure that housing of asylum seekers is managed in a fair and accountable way.

The government contract to provide housing to asylum seekers from September 2019, which amounts to more than £4 billion, was put out for tender in November. The closing date for bids is Monday (17 December).

The present system is managed by private companies Clearsprings, G4S and Serco – which handles the contract in Scotland – however it drew criticism from charities earlier this year when poor conditions that some asylum seekers were living in were revealed.

The open letter to Amber Rudd –  which has been signed by the Scottish Refugee Council, the Asylum Seeker Housing Project and Govan Community Project amongst others –  has called for greater involvement from local authorities and communities.

“A safe, secure home is a necessity for people seeking refugee protection in the UK,” said the letter. “As most people arrive here exhausted and destitute it is right, and indeed a legal obligation, that the government provides housing to people in need as a public service.

“However, it is essential that the task of providing accommodation to people seeking international protection is done in a way that ensures people’s needs, dignity and wellbeing are upheld and maintained.”

The letter also calls for local authorities and communities to be fairly and fully financially resourced to ensure they can manage the costs of accommodating asylum seekers, and recommends that councils oversee the service.

The contract is one of the largest handled by the UK Government and spans a period of 10 years.