Glasgow is setting up a taskforce in a bid to help asylum seekers affected by Serco's planned lock changes.
The city council is to work with Third Sector partners and legal charities to offer advocacy and support services to up to 300 people who are facing eviction by Home Office contractor, Serco.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of the Council, and Annemarie O'Donnell, Chief Executive, have also sent the Home Secretary a second letter urging him to instruct Serco to pause it's plans and give the city time to establish the taskforce and respond to this emerging crisis.
The city's urgent request asking the Home Office to reconsider is contained in the letter below.
Dear Mr Javid.
As Leader and Chief Executive of Glasgow City Council we are urgently requesting that you instruct an immediate pause on Serco's programme of lock changes for asylum seekers in the city who have not been granted refugee status.
As has been previously stated, these actions would result in a humanitarian crisis that Glasgow is unprepared for, and which the city's statutory and public agencies were given very little notice of or time to prepare for.
A suspension of the immediate commencement of the programme would enable Glasgow City Council to establish what advocacy and support services are required to enable those asylum seekers affected to fully explore what legal processes or other options remain open to them. In the event of a suspension taking place, we fully commit to undertaking and leading that work with relevant partners in the city.
A suspension would further allow the city council and partners in the third sector to put in place the essential frontline services which will be required following the anticipated 300-plus evictions.
In the meantime, Glasgow City Council is in the process of establishing a task force to respond to this emerging crisis. It will comprise council officers, other local government partners, third sector representatives and independent legal charities who will advise on the level of support we require to put in place for the individuals affected and the scale of the resources needed.
Glasgow, unlike other dispersal cities, receives no funding from the Home Office. It is clear that cannot continue and we would urge immediate action by the Home Office to compensate Glasgow City Council for the provision of asylum support services, on the same basis as English local authorities.
Glasgow has always been, and will continue to be, a willing and active partner in the resettlement of asylum seekers in Scotland. We firmly believe that the dispersal programme over the past twenty years has had a positive impact on our city. However the scale of the proposed evictions will have a severe, and detrimental impact on the city.
Please reconsider your decision and allow us to work constructively with the partners who exist in the city to ensure no vulnerable people fall through the cracks due to the short timescale and consequent massive impact an immediate large scale programme of evictions will have.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader, Glasgow City Council
Annemarie O'Donnell, Chief Executive, Glasgow City Council.