Serco to resume lock change evictions against Glasgow asylum seekers
Private housing provider Serco has announced it will resume lock change evictions against asylum seekers in Glasgow next week.
The company’s plans to evict more than 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow brought pressure from campaigners and charities, including a number of city-based housing associations. It was then forced to temporarily pause the action ahead of a court challenge.
However, a challenge brought by Govan Law Centre (GLC) failed to persuade the courts that Serco was acting unlawfully.
The issue is being brought back to the courts, but a decision will not be made until July.
In a statement, charity Positive Action in Housing called on Serco to suspend the evictions until the conclusion of the court appeal.
Director Robina Qureshi said: “Rupert Soames and Serco agreed publicly that they would not take any immediate action to evict after the Court of Session judgement last month, and would consult with ‘key partners’. Neither of these happened.
“In fact, since April 2019, asylum seekers have come into our office in Glasgow with letters telling them to leave their accommodation immediately. Both refugees and asylum seekers have been intimidated into leaving their accommodation by Serco sending out ‘eviction letters’.”
Ms Qureshi added: “While we appreciate that Serco may not have received Home Office funding, we are talking about very vulnerable individuals often with severe mental health issues, whose only alternative is destitution.
“Serco keeps referring to phased lock changes, whereby 30 people a week will be turned out onto the streets of Glasgow, so with in the next two-and-a-half months ,we will see at least 300 people being made totally destitute, some of whom will beg other asylum seekers to take them in, thereby risking their own accommodation.
“Furthermore, our charity will face an increased demand from destitute people seeking emergency grants and spare rooms in the homes of our volunteers hosts through Room for Refugees. We are also dealing with very vulnerable people, both men and women who have severe mental health problems.”
Julia Rogers, Serco’s managing director of immigration, said: “We very much regret the distress this will cause, but hope that it will be understood that we cannot be expected to provide free housing indefinitely to hundreds of people who have been unsuccessful in their asylum claims and most of whom have no legal right to remain in the UK.
“We call on all parties to work with us constructively to help people navigate their way through to a new future beyond the asylum system, and we will be making funds available to charities to support this work.”