Serco and Asylum Seeker Lock-change Evictions

Part of Children’S Future Food Report – in the House of Commons at 4:43 pm on 27th June 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Minister for Immigration 4:43 pm, 27th June 2019

As I was saying, a small number of people have been granted refugee status, but it is absolutely right that they then move on from accommodation that is designated for destitute asylum seekers, so that the next cohort of asylum seekers can move into that accommodation, and those refugees—who have the right to stay, live and work in this country—move into accommodation that is appropriate for their needs and is not designated part of this asylum support accommodation, which is specifically designed for a cohort of people who are still in the claims process.

As the hon. Gentleman will know, I have also written to all Glasgow MPs with a direct line of contact to Home Office teams, who can work on a case-by-case basis should they have any questions or concerns. All applicants involved have been notified that they can contact their MP for advice and that their MPs have a direct line to the Home Office.

Some concern has been raised about the legal position in relation to issuing lock-change notices, which I would like to clarify. In July 2018, Serco commenced a process of reclaiming properties from those whose asylum applications had been decided and were no longer entitled to support. This was after a similar process had been successfully rolled out in the north-west of England.

The process of issuing a lock-change notice, if an individual refused to leave a property at the end of their entitlement, was paused pending a legal challenge in the Scottish courts. That pause did not affect people’s eligibility to receive asylum support, so those who became appeal rights exhausted or were granted leave to remain continued to receive the normal letter asking them to leave their accommodation. However, in that period, Serco did not follow this up by proceeding with lock changes if the individuals declined to leave.

In April this year, Lord Tyre dismissed two cases brought against Serco and the Home Office contesting this course of action. An appeal has been lodged and is currently sisted. As the cases were dismissed, Serco is now moving to resolve the circumstances of those staying in Serco properties. It is right that it does so.

Finally, I want to clarify the operational process, which I also set out in my recent letter to Glasgow MPs and MSPs.