Author: Karin Goodwin
Leading politicians have branded Serco’s decision to evict 300 refused asylum seekers, housed in its accommodation under a multi-million pound Home Office contract, by changing the locks as “shocking”, “cold hearted” and “utterly despicable” and have written to the Home Secretary calling on him to intervene.
A letter co-signed by all seven of Glasgow’s MPs, Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken and other councillors called on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to “cease the lock change and eviction process with immediate effect”.
The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Aileen Campbell, also sent separate letters to both the Home Office and Serco, urging them to “stop the implementation of this policy immediately”.
Refugee agencies ‘dismayed’ Serco confirmed that it yesterday sent out six notices to “single applicants” giving seven days notice until locks are changed. More are expected to follow
Refugee agencies ‘dismayed’ Serco confirmed that it yesterday sent out six notices to “single applicants” giving seven days notice until locks are changed. More are expected to follow.
Refugee agencies supporting refused asylum seekers, who have no resource to public funds under Home Office policy, said they were “dismayed” and warned of dire consequences.
Glasgow City Council, which already has a shortage of homeless accommodation, has a duty to support families and vulnerable adults. But support agencies claim others, many of whom have mental health difficulties or even suicidal due to their desperate situation, will be left on the streets.
‘Apalled at this news’
A public protest has also been called this evening in Glasgow city centre.
Aileen Campbell said: “I am appalled at this news and have written to the UK Government and Serco to urge them to stop their implementation of this policy immediately.”
Alison Thewliss SNP MP for Glasgow Central said that Serco’s decision to “behave so callously is unforgivable”.
Paul Sweeney Labour MP for Glasgow North added: “If this is how the Tory Government and their privatised cronies in Serco think they should be treated as the latest miserable example of their ‘hostile environment’ agenda, they will be met with robust opposition by all right-thinking citizens in Glasgow.”
Chris Stephens SNP MP for Glasgow South claimed the descision, which goes against Scottish housing legislation, was unlawful. Housing lawyers told i it could be legally challenged.
Jenni Halliday, Serco’s housing contract director, claimed Serco was currently “providing housing free of charge to over 300 former asylum seekers who no longer have the right to stay in the UK”.
She added: “Whilst we are sympathetic to their plight we cannot continue to provide free housing indefinitely. We have therefore started legal proceedings to repossess our properties.”
A Home Office spokesperson said that while an asylum claim was outstanding it provided accommodation during the process for those who would otherwise be destitute. He added: “It is right that we prepare for someone’s removal if they do not have a lawful basis to stay in the UK and they are not pursuing an appeal.”