New asylum housing contracts: Serco, G4S, Reliance

New asylum housing contracts: Serco, G4S, Reliance

image - Red Rd flats, Glasgow

The UK Border Agency has announced the ‘preferred bidders’ to provide accommodation for asylum seekers across the UK for the next 5 years.

Public and voluntary sector providers have been completely replaced by the three big multinational companies, all active in the detention and deportation business.

The preferred bidders, by region, are:

London and South: Reliance Secure Task Management Ltd
Wales: Reliance Secure Task Management Ltd

Midlands and East of England: G4S Regional Management (UK&I) Ltd
North East Yorkshire and Humber: G4S Regional Management (UK&I) Ltd

North West: Serco Civil Government
Scotland and Northern Ireland: Serco Civil Government

Reliance Secure Task Management took over the deportation ‘escort’ contract from G4S earlier this year, the announcement coming shortly after Jimmy Mubenga died while being restrained by G4S guards on a British Airways passenger flight to Uganda.

G4S continues to run detention centres in the UK. In June it was revealed that they had received over 700 complaints last year, with more than half related to the Brook House detention centre, near Gatwick airport.

Serco runs the Yarl’s Wood and Colnbrook detention centres in the UK, and seven detention centres in Australia.

In Scotland, the Glasgow City of Sanctuary group has issued a challenge to Serco: can they meet the Scottish Standards for Temporary Accommodation? The code of practice, drawn up by Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland and Shelter Scotland is a good practice tool for temporary accommodation providers. The Sanctuary group hopes to meet with Serco to discuss measures that the company could put in place to avoid some of the awful housing situations experienced by people seeking sanctuary in the UK.

The group said in a press release: “Glasgow can be proud of our history as a city of welcome for people seeking sanctuary. Asylum housing provision, however, has been very hit and miss and some of it, particularly in the private sector, has been downright awful. What we are offering here is a chance for the new landlord to match the goodwill of Glasgow people and the standards of Scottish housing providers.”

“We aren’t asking for special treatment for people seeking sanctuary, just a housing service of the same standard as that for other people who find themselves homeless.”

In Glasgow and across the UK there have been examples of shockingly sub-standard housing being used in Border Agency contracts. Problems have often been highlighted by community groups and voluntary organisations, but this year those groups in Glasgow have had their Council funding cut by almost 50%, leading to redundancies and cut-back services.

Glasgow City of Sanctuary group believes that the Scottish Standards can be used as the basis for a decent housing service, and will help community groups to monitor it. Pinar Aksu is a refugee, Community Development degree student, and a member of City of Sanctuary. Pinar said:

“Poor quality housing is always one of the big issues at the women’s refugee group I work with. If Serco sign up to this, we’ll be able to make that sure everyone knows the standard to expect, we can monitor the service and help people to report problems.”

Glasgow City of Sanctuary group will be meeting to discuss the housing contract on Friday 16 December. Details here.

More Reading:

Read more about the COMPASS housing contracts at the UKBA website, here.

Read some background to the asylum housing contracts, and an article on the cuts this time round, here at IRR website and here at Inside Housing

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