An updated Q&A on today’s Court of Session verdict.

Please contact our helpline on 0141 223 7979 if you are worried about what this verdict means for you.

What happened today?

Today, the Court of Session handed down their verdict in the case of Ali vs Serco and the Home Office. This case was initially heard in February 2019, and its decision was appealed. The appeal case was heard on 28 August 2019, and we have been awaiting the decision since. 140 people had their evictions temporarily halted in the summer until this case was clarified.

Devastatingly, it has been ruled that lock-change evictions without a court order are lawful.

What does this decision mean for people?

This disappointing verdict leaves hundreds of men and women exposed to lock-change evictions and street homelessness this winter, and sets a negative precedent for Mears Group and other accommodation contractors across the UK.

Every day we witness the impact of destitution as Home Office policy on our clients, and we will see huge anxiety and fear in light of this galling verdict. This decision means destitution, with the real risk of exploitation and death on the streets of Glasgow.

If you receive a lock-change eviction notice or are concerned in any way about yourself or a friend, please contact our helpline immediately: 0141 223 7979

Why have the courts decided that this group of people don’t have the same rights as everyone else in Scotland?

This is what makes it particularly devastating. Court orders protect most people in Scotland from lock-change evictions. We believe that everyone in Scotland should have the same rights, regardless of their immigration status. Some worrying precedents have been set by today’s ruling.

What are Scottish Refugee Council going to do about this situation?

We cannot let a humanitarian crisis unfold on our streets. As a city, we need an urgent and coordinated humanitarian effort to provide safe shelter and key services to people who have nowhere else to go.

We will continue to push for fundamental and real reform to the asylum system which would remove destitution as a policy. This is just one of our key asks of political parties when writing their manifestos – read more here.

Why does the asylum accommodation system let so many people down?

The whole asylum system fails people. It is not easy to get refugee protection in the UK and there are many questions about the quality of asylum decision making.

When people are refused asylum, they face a gap in the system. There is no accommodation provided for people whose claims have been refused. This forces people into destitution at an extremely vulnerable point in their lives. Instead of being able to gather evidence for a fresh asylum claim or make an informed decision about their future, people are forced onto the streets, with the threat of detention and removal hanging over their heads.

What needs to be done?

The asylum system needs to be reformed so people receive basic financial support and a roof over their head until they are either granted asylum or are able to return to their home country. Until this happens, we need a safety net of shelter, care, food, support and advocacy for people being forced onto Glasgow’s streets.

What can I do?

Sign up to our #StopLockChangeEvictions mailing list to keep up to date with events, news and information.

Spread the word about advice line and support for people who are destitute: 0141 223 7979

Distribute the “Know Your Rights” poster. Download it here in English, Kurdish Sorani, Mandarin, Arabic, Amharic, Farsi.

Make a donation to our Destitution Fund and help us provide crucial support to vulnerable individuals at risk of street homelessness this winter.

Volunteer with Glasgow Night Shelter for destitute asylum seekers, who are holding an induction evening for new volunteers this Friday at 6pm. Email glasgownightshelter@gmail.com for more information.

Author: Chris Afuakwah