Socialist Worker

Hundreds of asylum seekers threatened with homelessness in Glasgow

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2615

Protesters welcome refugees to Glasgow

Protesters welcome refugees to Glasgow (Pic: Stephen McBroom)


Hundreds of asylum seeker families face being thrown onto the streets of Glasgow as a result of racist immigration rules.

The Serco Group threatened on Monday to issue “lock change notices” to around 300 refugees whose asylum claims have been rejected.

The outsourcing giant runs the housing on a contract from Tory Sajid Javid’s Home Office. It has threatened to carry out the changes in just seven days.

Robina Qureshi is director of refugee homelessness charity Positive Action in Housing, which has been helping the families. She told Socialist Worker that Serco’s threats had left the residents “afraid to leave the house”.

“Some have stopped going to school or college, some are starving themselves because they won’t go out to buy bread and milk”.

“We held a meeting with Serco residents and detected that they were vulnerable, that some were close to suicide.”

The plans have been met with outrage, but the Scottish National Party government and other authorities have been slow to step in. As Robina said, “There are a lot of agencies being silent.

“We don’t need just sympathy, we need these agencies to act over what could be mass extra judicial eviction.”

“Will the police be defending Serco? And if someone calls police over being attacked by Serco staff in attempt to remove them from their house, is that an assault?”

An email from a senior Serco manager, titled “Move-On Pathway”, suggested that the asylum seekers do not have a legal right to remain in Britain.

A British passport to  prejudice
A British passport to prejudice
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It said the company are “now consistently accommodating approximately 250-300 former asylum seekers who have received a negative decision”.

And the email complained that Serco—which reported £69.8 million profit for 2017—was housing refugees “at our own expense”.

Robina said, “They are the landlord—how dare they comment on people’s right to remain in the country? They are not ‘failed refugees’, they are fast-tracked into failed asylum and destitution by the Home Office.

“It is a systematic destitution policy by the UK government.”

Home Office rules make it near-impossible for asylum seekers without support to have their claims accepted. Robina explained, “It is very difficult for asylum seekers to get witnesses or documentary evidence within the deadline when you’re talking about Afghanistan or Syria.

“That’s why they are fast-tracked into failing the applications.

Refugees are often left in legal limbo and poverty as they try to appeal against rejected asylum claims. Robina said, “The British Red Cross regularly refer people to us to have them accommodated.

“We have 7,000 hosts across the country on our list, primarily in Glasgow and London”.

By plunging asylum seekers into poverty, it makes it harder to appeal the Home Office decisions. Robina said, “People want to work and stand on their own two feet, but Serco CEO Rupert Soames is making people destitute.

“Once they are able to get proper legal support, many go on to have their support reinstated or go to judicial review.”

Anti-racists planning are to protest in Glasgow on Tuesday evening in solidarity with the families and to demand action against Serco.

The treatment facing these asylum seekers in Glasgow shows the reality of Britain’s racist immigration rules. It will take a mass movement against the Tories’ racism to stop it happening again.

Protest on Tuesday at 6pm, Royal Concert Hall, Buchanan Street, G1 2NG. See the Facebook event page for more details

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