Serco loses asylum housing contract in Scotland after lock change row

Campaigners form human chain outside Serco in solidarity with asylum seekers. Picture: 'John Devlin
Campaigners form human chain outside Serco in solidarity with asylum seekers. Picture: 'John Devlin
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A company caught up in a lock-changing row has lost its asylum accommodation contract for Scotland.

Serco, which was contracted by the Home Office, will cease delivering the accommodation north of the border from September, with the contract now awarded to Mears Group.

Private provider Serco was criticised in summer 2018 after it announced a rolling lock change eviction process for those not given refugee status in Glasgow in the summer of 2018.

It announced a pause on the plans in the face of legal challenges against the evictions at the Court of Session and Glasgow Sheriff Court.

The Scottish Refugee Council welcomed the news about the new contract.

Its policy officer Graham O’Neill said: “It is time for a new approach and in Glasgow we welcome this new chapter in supporting people seeking refugee protection.

“Providing housing to people in need is an essential public service and the rights, needs and dignity of people seeking refugee protection must be at the heart of the work of the Mears Group as they take over from Serco.

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“We want to see the new housing provider working collaboratively with Glasgow City Council, sharing decision-making with the council and working transparently with local services and communities.

“With these assurances in place we look forward to working alongside the Mears Group to make sure that anyone seeking refugee protection in Scotland is able to begin rebuilding their lives in safe, secure and appropriate accommodation.”

Mears Group said its focus was on housing management, repairs and domiciliary care.

Julia Rogers, managing sirector of Serco’s immigration business, said: “We are obviously disappointed not to have won the competition in Scotland.

“Despite what some commentators have said, I know that our team in Glasgow has delivered a service that has seen the asylum seekers in our care treated with dignity and respect and provided with accommodation that not only meets all the required standards, but is some of the most heavily inspected in the country.

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“Our employees who are residents and constituents of Glasgow, have always been totally professional in circumstances that were at times very challenging and I am proud of them all.

“Our job now is to complete the contract to the highest standard over the next nine months and hand over to the new provider in September.”