Scottish Refugee Council calls for investigation into housing for people seeking asylum

Housing

Scottish Refugee Council is today calling for an investigation into allegations about the way asylum seekers are treated and housed in Glasgow, and for a UK-wide Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into asylum accommodation contracts. 

A report in The Times today carries allegations of dehumanising treatment of refugees, shockingly poor standards of accommodation and an apparently failing oversight regime. The allegations include one case of a mother and baby housed in a cockroach infested property in Glasgow.

 Currently, the Home Office outsources the contract for asylum accommodation in Glasgow to multinational services company Serco and its sub-contractor, the property management firm Orchard & Shipman.

 John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: “These latest allegations follow recent concerning practices in Home Office contracted asylum accommodation such as the ‘red doors’ scandal in Middlesborough and asylum seekers required to wear coloured wristbands in Cardiff.

 “A report on asylum seeker accommodation carried out in 2014 by Scottish Refugee Council highlighted many similar issues. If the latest allegations are upheld, the problems seem to have only got worse, particularly the alleged discriminatory and neglectful conduct within Orchard and Shipman. 

 “The Home Office has clear legal responsibilities towards refugees. These include ensuring people fleeing persecution from countries like Syria, Eritrea and Afghanistan who arrive in the UK seeking asylum have their claims properly considered and that they are housed and supported in a humane and dignified way during this process. Claiming asylum is a human right and not a crime.”

 Scottish Refugee Council calls for the following actions to be carried out immediately:

  • The Home Office commissions an independent investigation into these allegations, which may include inquiries into whether any criminal offences have been committed, and commits to a thorough review of how its asylum accommodation contracts are being managed and delivered.
  • The Home Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament initiates a full inquiry into the operation of the Home Office Compass asylum accommodation contracts.
  • Any plans to widen asylum dispersal to other local authority areas in Scotland should only proceed with the full and formal involvement of councils and in Scotland with the Scottish Government.