Tuesday, 20 November 2018 19:51



The SNP has called on the UK government to urgently overhaul the system of asylum accommodation contracts - demanding more funding for and greater input from local authorities.

Cllr Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, gave evidence at the Home Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons today, speaking on the local authority’s experience of the UK government’s handling of asylum accommodation contracts. 

The evidence session comes just weeks before the Home Office is set to sign up to new 10 year contracts with the same private accommodation contractors and incorporating the same fundamental problems that have been repeatedly highlighted about the system.

Glasgow City Council was one of the UK’s first local authorities to sign up as a dispersal area and currently houses more asylum seekers than the next four local authority areas combined. The Council Leader has called on the UK government to allow local authorities to design, or co-produce, contracts on asylum accommodation moving forward.

SNP MP Stuart McDonald, who sits on the Committee, has expressed concern around the lack of financial support from the UK government. The UK Minister for Immigration, Caroline Nokes, is expected to be questioned on the issue of asylum accommodation by the Committee tomorrow.

Commenting, Leader of Glasgow City Council Cllr Susan Aitken said:

“The privatisation of asylum accommodation contracts by the UK government has been a disaster that continues to fail those seeking asylum and communities in Glasgow. We want to welcome new Glaswegians and allow them to contribute to our city, but backward rules set by the Tory government prevent us from doing this.

“Local authorities should be at the heart of the decision making for these contracts but to date the UK government’s approach has gone against this.

“The recent threat to evict 330 asylum seekers on to the streets of Glasgow without any consultation only strengthens our argument that  a public sector bid for these contracts would have been the best way forward.

“The Home Office must listen to the concerns being expressed and put in place an asylum system that works for both asylum seekers and local communities.”

SNP Immigration Spokesperson Stuart McDonald MP said:

“Whilst the Tory government are distracted by their shambolic Brexit negotiations, the need for significant changes to the contracts for asylum accommodation is more urgent than ever. The massive problems caused by Tory privatisation on the cheap have been highlighted in evidence from Cllr Aitken and others at the Home Affairs Committee. 

“There is clear demand for an overhaul of the asylum accommodation by the UK government so that local authorities are properly empowered to make decisions. And the Minister must also commit to properly resourcing local authorities to ensure that communities can continue to be open to accommodating and supporting asylum seekers - which is what we all want to see.”

‘Serco to 'pause' asylum seeker eviction lock-change plan’ - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-45069712

‘Serco to pause plans to evict asylum seekers after Glasgow protests’ - https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/04/glasgow-protesters-rally-against-serco-plan-to-evict-asylum-seekers

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