Asylum Accommodation

A home should be a place of stability, but it is too often a source of anguish for people seeking protection and works against them having a fair chance in their asylum claim.

Update 13/6/19

In summer 2018, Serco suddenly announced that they planned to evict 300 destitute asylum seekers from their homes, serving lock-change notices which generated widespread opposition and controversy.

A legal challenge was raised by Govan Law Centre, who argued that no evictions should take place without the authority of a court order. The hearing took place on 7-8 February 2019 at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, and the Court of Session delivered its ruling on 12 April that the lock-change evictions were lawful.

Additionally, Serco lost their contract to house asylum seekers in Glasgow in January 2019. They are currently in the process of handing over their contract to Mears' Group, which will be completed by September 2019. 

Serco’s statement on 12th June 2019 announces that they will begin evictions over the next four months, evicting “no more than 30 people per week” until their contract is passed on to Mears Group. Thirty vulnerable, destitute people per week, leading to 300 people in total, will be forced onto the streets of Glasgow.

Further information and statements from across the sector here.

Graham O'Neill Policy Officer


CLICK HERE to watch our Policy Officer Graham O'Neill explain more about asylum accommodation contracts. 

If you have been issued a lock-change notice, please bring it with you immediately/as soon as possible to Scottish Refugee Council.

Helpline: 0141 223 7979

Continuing Concern

Scottish Refugee Council alongside other key stakeholders believe that these new contracts have not addressed the well-documented and persistent issues witnessed under the current contracts. People seeking refugee protection need safe and secure accommodation so that they can begin to rebuild their lives and recover from their trauma. We believe that accommodation for asylum seekers should meet the same decent standards that we'd expect for anyone else in society. 

The Home Affairs Committee in the UK Parliament, which published a comprehensive inquiry report into asylum accommodation in 2017, remains very concerned about the Home Office’s plans for the new 10 year contracts. Recently it wrote to the Home Secretary demanding urgent clarity and answers on the future of asylum accommodation and the wider asylum dispersal system. The Chief Inspector also published his report on the Home Office’s management of asylum accommodation provision.

Our 5 Key Asks of Mears Group

Our five key asks of the new accommodation provider:

1.   Understand that providing “asylum accommodation” is delivering an essential public service

Asylum accommodation is a public service. It derives from international law on refugee protection and reception standards and the right to shelter and is part of UK law. This service should be available for all people in the asylum process, including those refused and appeal rights exhausted, up to the point of voluntary or safe return.  

2.   Ensure the dignity of the person is at the centre of this service

The dignity and wellbeing of the person must be placed at the centre of the design and delivery of this public service. The housing provided must recognise and meet particular needs, such as disabilities, ensuring safety for survivors of sexual violence, or that torture survivors are not forced to room-share in ways that aggravate any PTSD. 

3.  Support and enable people to access their rights within the asylum system 

People seeking refugee protection have rights beyond housing. Access to these rights should be supported and not hindered by the service. Important entitlements include practicable access to asylum legal representation or to healthcare - such as psychological trauma services or antenatal and perinatal care for pregnant women and new mothers. All these should be built into the design and delivery of any housing arrangement.  

4.   Work in partnership with local services, communities and councils 

The service should be based on the principle of responsibility-sharing and partnership working. The new provider must agree to make shared decisions with local councils and to work transparently with local services and communities

5.   Agree a process of property inspections with local authorities

To ensure accommodation meets the shared standards expected by local authority property inspections.



Related stories:

READ:Asylum Seekers to be Locked Out of Homes (2018)

READ: Next decade of asylum housing hangs in the balance (2017)

READ: Asylum report highlights widespread housing problems  (2014)