As we have reported in recent updates, the Home Office is re-tendering its major contracts for housing asylum seekers, currently held by corporates including the usual outsourcing suspects G4S and Serco. In recent years these contractors have been slammed for the appalling conditions, as asylum housing has become a byword for squalor, management intimidation, and facilitating racist attacks.
The South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group (SYMAAG) has taken a leading role in exposing these contractors, and is now helping start a new campaign against the prospect of G4S and Serco renewing their mandate. Here we publish the announcement for a public meeting called by SYMAAG on 24 February, and some further analysis by the group’s John Grayson.
South Yorkshire Migration and Asylum Action Group invites you to:
AN ACTION DAY CONFERENCE SATURDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2018 10.30 a.m. (for 11 a.m. start) to 4 p.m.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND ASYLUM HOUSING:
Discussing the £4 billion Government AASC (Asylum Accommodation and Support Services Contracts) from 2019 to 2029.
THE SANCTUARY, CHAPEL WALK, SHEFFIELD CITY CENTRE (OPPOSITE CRUCIBLE THEATRE) S1 2PD.TEN MINUTES WALK FROM RAIL AND BUS STATIONS.
Tenders are already in from the corporations and companies set to exploit the latest (and biggest) contract to be offered in the UK and European asylum markets, housing refugees waiting for the outcomes of asylum claims.G4S has already confirmed its interest. Asylum housing throughout the UK was outsourced in 2012 by the Home Office with a five year £1.7bn contract given to three international security companies G4S, Serco and the smaller Reliance company. The contracts have been problematic for most asylum tenants (with four critical parliamentary inquiries), and disastrous for many individuals and families.
The 1999 Asylum and Immigration Act stripped asylum tenants of all the rights established in law for council and private tenants. Since 2012 there have been many examples where the legal and human rights of refugee children and disabled refugees have been threatened by conditions in, and management, of asylum accommodation. Two of the present contractors Serco and G4S have been criticised and sanctioned for their record on human rights in managing contracts in detention centres, and children’s prisons in the UK, and in prisons and detention centres in South Africa, Palestine, and Australia. Is this record relevant to the award of new contracts for the care of refugees with £4 billion of taxpayers money? Should it be? Come along on 24 February and have your say and decide what actions we can take.
Speakers will include asylum tenants, journalists, housing researchers and academics, and YOU in small group discussions producing plans for action. Tell us you are coming by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
BRIEFING: FROM COMPASS TO THE £4 billion AASC ASYLUM HOUSING CONTRACT
On 18 November the new AASC (Asylum Accommodation and Support Services Contracts) for asylum housing across the UK from September 2019 to September 2029 were opened for tender. The cost to the British tax payer is a staggering £4 billion. Bidders for the contracts were given TWENTY NINE DAYS to the 17 December to register an interest. There were seven contract areas offered (Northern Ireland is the smallest at £50 million, the North West and the South of England the largest with £900 million all over ten years) making it likely that bidders would be limited to corporations and large housing companies operating in asylum markets across the EU, like the present holders of the UK COMPASS contracts: G4S, Serco, and Clearsprings.
There is already confirmation that G4S has put in their tender.
There are other indications that the three holders of the contracts, or private contractors like them, may well be the government’s preferred companies for delivery of the new contracts. On the 9 November, nine months on from a highly critical report on the COMPASS contracts by the Home Affairs Select Committee published on 31 January 2017, the government finally gave its response to their findings and recommendations. The government rejected the findings and recommendations wholesale and claimed that the “the standard of accommodation provided to asylum seekers has improved since 2012.”
Since the present contractors came on board in June 2012, there have been four significant inquiries, featuring asylum housing in Parliament, the Children’s’ Society Parliamentary panel in 2013, a Home Affairs Committee inquiry in 2013, a Public Accounts Committee inquiry in 2014 and the current Home Affairs Committee inquiry.
In 2016 G4S was fined £5.6m for the standard of the housing it provided in 2013/14. Despite all that, regardless of persistently negative media coverage and asylum tenants’ tenacious resistance and solidarity campaigning, still, G4S, Serco and Clearel hold the contract. They were given an extension (and more money) in December 2016 which will take them through to September 2019.