Mark Whitehead 17 December 2018

Councils ‘lose confidence’ in system for housing asylum seekers

Inspection of housing for asylum seekers, including torture victims and mothers with small children, should be carried out by councils rather than civil servants, MPs have recommended.

The Home Office committee of the House of Commons says the transfer of duties should also include powers to impose sanctions for failure to meet acceptable standards.

They say the Government must show greater urgency about the 'degrading conditions' in which vulnerable people, including pregnant women and individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, are being housed.

It says the Government must urgently engage with local authorities who are considering withdrawing from the scheme to disperse refugees throughout the country because of the way Whitehall is handling the replacement for the current contract, worth £4bn over 10 years.

The committee said very little has improved since its previous report on asylum accommodation nearly two years ago and mistrust by local authorities of central Government has deepened.

It says the Government must do more to support local authorities carrying a disproportionate share of responsibilities and improve take-up in other areas of the country.

Committee member Stuart McDonald said: 'Local authorities have lost confidence in the system because the Government has failed to listen and respond to their concerns.

'Glasgow, Manchester, Wolverhampton and communities across the UK have done so much to support those seeking asylum in the UK, yet the Government has done little to support them.

'In the final weeks before contracts for asylum accommodation worth billions of pounds are agreed, the Government must ensure they provide for a long-term, workable partnership with local authorities.'

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