The Leader of Glasgow City Council, Councillor Susan Aitken, has written to Caroline Nokes MP re Serco's "deeply concerning" plans to evict 300 asylum seekers in the city. Read the full letter below.
As you are aware, Serco has informed Glasgow City Council of its intention to change the locks of 300 homes in Glasgow from next month. This is a deeply concerning development.
In correspondence with me, Serco has stated that this move is due to legal obligations relating to the closure of the current contract ahead of the Mears Group taking over that contract from September. Serco Chief Executive Rupert Soames has stated that he is aware this will increase homelessness and, as such, has offered a donation of up to £150,000 to the Third Sector in the city to allow them to provide support.
This is an admission of a point I have made to you on previous occasions: that the combination of the terms of the contract and UK government policy has a direct humanitarian impact on people living in Glasgow - in some cases, for many years - and additionally on the resources of Glasgow City Council.
The 'No Recourse to Public Funds' policy renders local authorities powerless to respond and unable to provide the necessary support for many of those who will be affected. They will therefore be made destitute.
In order for Glasgow City Council to provide support, I would have to instruct officers to break the law.
It is a sorry and utterly unacceptable state of affairs when a UK Government contract legally obliges its contractor to force people from their homes and leave public servants to choose between either breaking the law or allowing mass destitution on the streets of our city.
When we spoke about this last year, I asked you to give me an undertaking that future lock changes would not take place and warned that if that did not happen, we would simply repeat the cycle of me having to protest to you about an imminent homelessness crisis in my city. I deeply regret that this has come to pass.
I therefore ask once again that as Minister for Immigration, you intervene, firstly, to prevent these planned evictions taking place and, secondly, to prevent future repetition of this situation. To begin with, funding is required for these tenancies to continue so that no locks will be changed in the coming weeks. This will give time for due diligence to be carried out and appropriate support put in place, including through the Third Sector if necessary.
Those whose rights of appeal rights exhausted are the responsibility of the UK Government. It cannot and must not be the case that you do nothing and allow for homelessness and destitution to be the only plausible outcome.
If there is no satisfactory resolution to this matter, one which accepts the inevitable consequences of lock changes and prevents them occurring, then Glasgow will have no alternative but to consider what, if any, future it can have in an asylum dispersal programme which allows for the imposition of such inhumane practices, against the express wishes and values not only of Glasgow City Council, but also of the citizens and communities we serve.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council.