Sector leaders in Scotland are standing against plans to evict 300 asylum seekers across Glasgow – putting huge pressure on the city’s voluntary sector.
Contractor SERCO is being urged to ‘reflect’ on its plan to issue seven day ‘lock change’ notices as the first stage of removing the 300 who have been told they cannot stay in Britain.
SERCO leases many of the homes it provides to asylum seekers from housing associations.
SFHA chief executive Sally Thomas cited SERCO’s past poor practice in how it treats vulnerable tenants to say members we would be concerned if even lawful evictions were done in such a way that was inhumane and put vulnerable households on the streets, without support.
“SERCO is in danger of putting profit before people, failing to work within the spirit of the law, and letting down vulnerable households in the support and inadequate time they need to make alternative housing arrangements”.
“We urge SERCO to reflect on their plans and comply with the spirit as well as the letter of the law and work with relevant support organisations to make sure their work is done in a completely legal and humane way”.
Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland Vice President Jim Strang branded SERCO’s plans a “disgrace” saying for many asylum seekers, the home they receive on arrival in Scotland is the first safe place they have known in years – offering stability to those who are in a new country and may be recovering from trauma or human rights abuses.
“This course of action will literally put hundreds of people on the street and should be stopped immediately – compounded by the fact that Glasgow City Council is legally prevented from providing accommodation for people with No Leave to Remain and No Recourse to Public Funds,” he said.
Acknowledging the policy related to those whose asylum claims have been refused, Strang said that from past experience many are likely to appeal which often leads to decisions being reversed, and they may well be entitled to accommodation while they undertake this process.
Above all, said Strang, there was a legitimate question about the legality of such a measure and whether Serco is allowed to change locks unilaterally or whether a court summons is required.
“We should be asking whether, as a civilised society, we have the complete lack of humanity to throw into the streets displaced vulnerable persons and families, stranded thousands of miles from their dangerous homelands, with little more than the clothes on their backs and their dignity in tatters.
“By threatening to evict so many people at the same time, Serco is creating a situation where Glasgow’s voluntary sector is completely unprepared for a sudden surge in people needing accommodation and support.
“It is vital that Serco and the Home Office work with local organisations to ensure that large numbers of people do not end up homeless on the streets of Glasgow,” he said.