Serious failings in provision of asylum accommodation

photo from ICIBI report

A report into the Home Office's management of asylum accommodation has found serious shortcomings in the quality of housing provided to people seeking refugee protection.

The report by the UK's Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration found that an unacceptable number of properties were substandard and, crucially, that the inspection regime established to maintain standards has failed. 

The findings detail properties that are damp, dirty, vermin infested and otherwise unsuitable for people who have experienced violence and significant trauma. 

But these findings are nothing new. We and other refugee rights charities have repeatedly raised concerns about the standard of housing provided via private sector contractors.

Graham O'Neill, Policy Officer at Scottish Refugee Council said: 

"What is really concerning about this report is that it shows that the inspection regime put in place to protect people has completely failed.

"In November 2017, The Home Office agreed to a system of regular property inspections to make sure no one was inappropriately housed. But there are just 14 people across the UK tasked with this responsibility of making sure around 13,000 properties are up to standard. And we know that even after doing an adverse inspection, the Home office did not re-inspect properties which breached standards. It's clearly an inadequate system and clearly, given this most recent report's findings, not fit for purpose.

"We've read too many reports now and seen with our own eyes too many substandard properties. What we need to see is local authorities given the responsibility and funding to do these inspections themselves. That way, local properties can be checked the way all other properties in local areas are checked to make sure people's homes are safe and secure. This new regime of local authority inspection should be written into the forthcoming accommodation contracts as one way to make sure these shortcomings are addressed.”