Immigration and asylum policy is reserved to Westminster. The law was changed in 2006 so that the Home Office – and not local councils – became responsible for providing housing for asylum seekers. The Home Office in 2012 chose to outsource this to private companies.
In Glasgow, the housing contractor is Serco, who announced plans to evict hundreds of asylum seekers in Glasgow and change the locks on their homes, leaving them homeless and destitute with no rights to benefits or accommodation. Following cross-party pressure, led by Glasgow City Council, Serco pledged to ‘pause’ this process.
Last summer, the Scottish Government provided £150,000 of emergency funding to strengthen local advocacy support for destitute asylum seekers at risk of eviction.
However, Serco have announced that they will be restarting a programme to evict people from asylum accommodation in Glasgow.
This issue has been caused by the Tory Home Office’s heartless policy over asylum – they must fix it. Not only could it lead to homelessness and destitution for hundreds of people, it leaves Glasgow City Council with no powers or funding to deal with the impact on public services.
The Communities Cabinet Secretary has written urgently to the Home Office calling on the UK Government to live up to its responsibilities on a matter that is entirely reserved and is resulting in people being made destitute and homeless. It is simply not acceptable for the Home Office to wash their hands of the consequences of their flawed and inhumane immigration and asylum process.
The Tory Home Office should ditch this policy and provide adequate resources to local councils – like Glasgow City Council – to ensure people are treated with dignity and respect.
If the Home Office won’t act, they should give the Scottish Parliament the powers to do so.
We think that the Scottish Government, elected by people in Scotland and accountable to the Scottish Parliament, is best placed to make decisions about migration in Scotland.