Hundreds of asylum seekers face eviction as lock-change programme begins

Hundreds of asylum seekers are facing eviction after an accommodation provider announced it is to begin a long-planned lock-changing programme.

Serco, which provides free housing to around 300 people in Glasgow, first announced that it was issuing notices to tenants who had been denied the right to remain in the UK last July.

A legal challenge from two asylum seekers against the measure in April argued that their eviction would be unlawful without a court order – however, it was dismissed by a judge.

In January it was also revealed that Serco had lost the Home Office contract in Scotland, which will be delivered by Mears Group after September.

Protesters
A legal challenge in April was dismissed by a Court of Session judge (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The company said it is “not a step we have taken lightly”, but will now restart the lock-change programme and return any housing it rents in the city to its owners at the end of the leases.

Julia Rogers, Serco’s managing director for 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.”

The programme will be rolled out over the next four months with the company saying “no more than 30 people” will be issued with lock-change notices in any one week.

Almost all are single adult men and women, and Serco said “no children will be left without housing”.

People will be given “at least 21 days’ notice so they can make alternative arrangements” and the firm said it will continue working with the Home Office and Glasgow City Council in the months ahead.

Serco also said it will make up to £150,000 available to charities supporting homeless people in Glasgow.

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