MSP blasts ‘scandalous’ lock change plans for asylum seekers

Scotland has welcomed more than 1,000 refugees in recent months. Picture: Getty Images
Scotland has welcomed more than 1,000 refugees in recent months. Picture: Getty Images
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Locks are to be changed on the homes of asylum seekers who have been refused refugee status.

The plans – which could affect up to 300 people in Glasgow – are revealed in an email from a senior manager at public services group Serco to agencies involved in supporting refugees.

Labour MSP Mary Fee described the move as “scandalous” and said she was “utterly dismayed” by the group’s decision.

Historically, lock changes have not been used for those who remain in asylum accommodation despite the Home Office ruling they will not be granted refugee status and withdrawing their funding.

The email says: “Serco are now consistently accommodating approximately 250- 300 former asylum seekers at any given time who have received a negative decision at our own expense.”

It confirms the firm “will be commencing with the issuing of lock change notices” for “those former asylum 
seekers who have received a negative decision as of wc [week commencing] 30 July 2018”. An initial six applicants will be issued with a seven-day lock change notice today.

West Scotland MSP Ms Fee became aware of the plans through the Women’s Asylum Seeker Housing project, which has raised concerns many of those involved are vulnerable and could end up homeless.

She said: “I am utterly dismayed by Serco’s brutal decision to lock asylum seekers out of their properties across Glasgow. Their decision to change the locks on properties with almost no prior warning is scandalous and lacks any compassion or rationale.

“The reality is that Serco are conducting a mass extra-judicial eviction of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Ultimately, this decision will force families into homelessness.

“We have a duty to displaced persons, who are fleeing persecution and warfare from around the world. Serco and the Tory government have totally failed in their duty of care to protect some of our most vulnerable people living in Glasgow.”

Jenni Halliday, Serco contract director, said: “We have been paying for the rent, the rates, the heating and lighting, and insurance on their properties, in many cases for many months, all at our own expense. Each of these former asylum seekers have been refused the right to stay in the UK by the government and the Home Office does not fund Serco to provide them with accommodation.”