MSP in plea for rethink on Glasgow asylum snub
Evening Times (Glasgow)
November 10, 2010 Wednesday
THE Home Office has been urged to rethink its decision to end Glasgow s contract to house asylum seekers.
Glasgow MSP Anne McLaughlin said people had already been sent letters telling them to pack their belongings just days after it was announced the deal was being ended.
Ms McLaughlin fears unnecessary upheaval and disruption to children s education, and has called for talks to restart.
Last week the UK Border Agency said it would no longer pay Glasgow City Council to house asylum seekers under the UK Government s dispersal scheme, following a row over increasing costs.
There are about 1300 asylum seekers in the city, with approximately 80% housed in Glasgow Housing Association properties under contract to the council. Others are in accommodation rented from the YMCA and Angel Group Ltd.
The council had a deal to take asylum seekers since 2000 and it is worth around £10m a year, for housing and other services.
Although numbers have fallen, the council said costs had been rising. The UK Government said the council sought a rise of up to 45%, which was not affordable.
Ms McLaughlin said: I have been contacted by teachers, support workers and asylum seekers all desperately worried by this news.
This happened only on Friday and already asylum seekers are getting letters telling them to pack two suitcases ready to leave Glasgow.
Their children are settled in school here and they are just to be plucked out of their communities and sent away.
Further disruption will also be caused to those receiving medical help for physical and mental health needs.
Many are single mothers with young children who now have to settle somewhere else.
I am shocked at the way people are being treated and call on both sides to get back to negotiations instead of needlessly disrupting the lives of children and families.
In statements both sides said the other had ended the contract.
Phil Taylor, regional director of the UK Border Agency, said it would be working with other providers to house asylum seekers.
A council spokesman said numerous attempts had been made to renegotiate the contract, but the UKBA refused to accept the council s position.