People fleeing persecution and serious human rights abuses including torture, are being housed in substandard accommodation in Scotland, putting their physical and mental wellbeing at risk.
Scottish Refugee Council has published a full report on the issue, including detailed case studies.
The report highlights widespread problems with the quality of accommodation provided to people seeking asylum in Scotland, currently managed by services giant Serco and housing manager Orchard and Shipman.
The report includes evidence of twelve months worth of complaints about accommodation raised by asylum seekers in Glasgow, including:
- a lack of adequate heating or hot water
- filthy or infested properties
- no locks on doors
- families having to share accommodation with strangers
- a lack of respect shown by housing provider staff towards asylum seekers
Scottish Refugee Council Acting Chief Executive Gary Christie said:
“People seeking asylum are often destitute and not allowed to work to support themselves and are forced to rely on the UK Government to put a roof over their head. The breadth and severity of the examples of accommodation problems detailed in our research are shocking. We are sure that they mirror wider, endemic problems with asylum accommodation across the UK as a whole.
“As it has been two and a half years since Serco acquired the government contract to provide accommodation services, the problems that we have found are clearly not just transitional.
Comprehensive review needed
“That’s why we are recommending an urgent and comprehensive review of the asylum accommodation contract in Scotland, and we are delighted that the Scottish Government agrees that this needs to happen.
“We also recommend that there needs to be further UK Parliamentary scrutiny of asylum accommodation provision, with a view to an overhaul of the system to make it fit for purpose.
“We would urge the Home Office and accommodation providers to treat asylum seekers as human beings and to provide housing that genuinely supports their needs, as well as making them aware of their rights and actually listening and responding adequately to any problems they might experience.”