Evidence given to the Home Affairs Committee inquiry on asylum accommodation
The Scottish Refugee Council have submitted written evidence to the Home Affairs Committee inquiry on asylum accommodation.
Housing providers such as COMPASS have been questioned on provision and quality of asylum accommodation. The Home Affairs Committee have been receiving oral and written evidence from a number of institutions and organisations on this issue.
The Scottish Refugee Council have made the following recommendations in its evidence:
- That the UK Government delays any extension of the Compass contracts until it has fully considered what this committee recommends in its inquiry report and not extend until it has responded to the committee with its conclusions.
- That regular and independent inspection is built into any extended Compass contracts as well as in any post-2019 approaches to providing this public service of housing to people seeking refugee protection.
- That refugee voice is integral to an extended contract as well as in post-2019 approaches. The performance of whoever is responsible for the service must be measured, at the very least, through a KPI on how well it involves refugees and improves practice as a result.
- That the National Audit Office conducts a social impact analysis of Compass dispersal and that such analysis should not be limited to Home Office Compass budget lines and their "savings" but to consider the extent of displacement of responsibility and cost shunting.
- That an independent advocacy service is built into any extended contracts for Compass in 2017-2019 and any approaches to this public service post-2019. This should build confidence amongst those involved in this public service and help to prevent unfunded cost shunting.
- Whether the public interest is being served in relation to accessing information on the Home Office's and its contractors' performance under Compass and, if the committee concludes it is not, make a recommendation that the Information Commissioner conduct an audit.
- That the UK Government give an undertaking not to enforce asylum dispersal on local authority areas pursuant to its power at s101 (3) of the 1999 Act. This builds trust with local authorities, constitute a partnership of equals, and help voluntary agreements be reached.
- That any extended contracts and post-2019 policy for this public service of housing have at their centre, gender, equalities and the particular needs or vulnerabilities of refugees stemming from torture, exploitation and psychological trauma.
- That the Equality and Human Rights Commission consider whether the Home Office and its contractors have, in designing and delivering this public service since 2012, had "due regard" to the public sector equality duty at s149 in the Equality Act 2010.
- That the UK and Scottish Governments have a working-level agreement on asylum dispersal. This should cover the dispersal process relating to Scotland; give an oversight role to Scottish ministers; and involve all key sectors: health, legal, local government, education and NGOs.
- Download the Scottish Refugee Council's full written submission here.
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