G4S takeover has been a 'disaster for asylum seekers'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities
Asylum seeker housing provider dropped after criticism
G4S's takeover of asylum housing under the UK Border Agency's (UKBA) COMPASS contracts has been a disaster for asylum seekers and their families in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North East, a new report claims.
Compiled for the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, the report also alleges that the allocation of the contracts to an international security company rather than a housing provider suggests that the contracts were allocated for political rather than commercial reasons.
Prepared by activist John Grayson on behalf of South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG) and Notog4sYorkshire Plus, the report argues that:
- The original business plan of G4S was not adequately scrutinised by the UKBA. There was never enough good quality accommodation in the PRS (Private Rented Sector) in Yorkshire to move asylum seekers into. This fact was put to the UKBA and never considered;
- The UKBA/G4S transition process entailed delays for up to six months in moving individual families, properties not being inspected prior to allocation, and substandard properties offered on a ‘no choice’ basis. The report quotes a large number of case studies;
- There was no evidence that UKBA and G4S had any procedures for assessing the needs of asylum seekers and their families and attempting to match them with appropriate accommodation;
- Housing management services provided by G4S and subcontracting companies were totally inadequate as a result of reductions in staffing levels on the new contracts compared with the previous Target contracts;
- There is evidence particularly in the North East that G4S and its subcontractors ignored the UKBA guidelines on not allocating asylum seekers ‘vulnerable properties’ in high crime areas and in areas with known racial incidents and far right activity.
The report concludes that the weight of evidence gathered by researchers, journalists, volunteers and activists should trigger an investigation by the Independent Chief Inspector for Borders and Immigration.