Opinion: Serco’s course of action should be stopped immediately
Chartered Institute of Housing vice president Jim Strang reacts to news that hundreds of asylum seekers in Glasgow face eviction.
For many asylum seekers, the home they receive on arrival in Scotland is the first safe place they have known in years.
This accommodation plays a vital part in giving stability to those who are in a new country and may be recovering from trauma or human rights abuses.
As such, the announcement from Serco that it will start evicting 300 individuals and families, who have been told they cannot stay in the UK, from next Monday, potentially giving them seven days’ notice to leave their home, is a disgrace and this course of action should be stopped immediately.
This act is compounded by the fact that Glasgow City Council is legally prevented from providing accommodation for people with No Leave to Remain and No Recourse to Public Funds. This act will literally put hundreds of people on the street.
Yes, the policy relates to people whose asylum claims have been refused, however we know from past experience that many are likely to appeal which often leads to decisions being reversed, and they may well be entitled to accommodation while they undertake this process.
Furthermore, there is a legitimate question about the legality of such a measure and whether Serco is allowed to change locks unilaterally or whether a court summons is required. Notwithstanding, we should also be asking whether as a civilised society we have the complete lack of humanity to throw into the streets displaced vulnerable persons and families, stranded thousands of miles from their dangerous homelands, with little more than the clothes on their backs and their dignity in tatters.
By threatening to evict so many people at the same time, Serco is creating a situation where Glasgow’s voluntary sector is completely unprepared for a sudden surge in people needing accommodation and support. It is vital that Serco and the Home Office work with local organisations to ensure that large numbers of people do not end up homeless on the streets of Glasgow.