Glasgow-based asylum seekers, waiting to receive a decision on their right to stay in the UK, will not face lock-change evictions from social housing after an agreement was reached with new Home Office contractor Mears.
The new commitment was agreed between Mears and the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF). Over 400 housing association homes are leased to Serco, which has been the Home Office’s asylum accommodation provider in recent years.
SFHA and GWSF acted on behalf of their members after learning that Serco was beginning to recover some properties through the controversial lock-change measure.
With a transition to a new contract provider, the Mears Group, on 16 September, SFHA and GWSF secured urgent changes to improve the support for asylum seekers, help prevent destitution and replace lock-change evictions with a proper court process.
Asylum seekers who have already been told they cannot stay in the UK will continue to be housed by Serco, pending the outcome of legal challenges.
Polly Jones, SFHA Head of membership and policy, said: “Together with our members, SFHA and GWSF have secured a commitment from Mears to prevent any asylum seeker facing destitution. We are delighted lock-change evictions have been ruled out and replaced with a clear and fair support package, where any decision to evict an asylum seeker must be approved first by a court.
“Social landlords want to continue to provide much-needed accommodation to asylum seekers in Glasgow and this new contract ensures that will happen.”
GWSF Director David Bookbinder said: “We really welcome the willingness of Mears to take a fresh approach to the very difficult and sensitive issue of how asylum seekers in Glasgow will leave their accommodation after they have a decision on their right to stay in the UK. It’s important for housing associations to be confident that their homes are managed by the Home Office’s contractor professionally and humanely.”