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Serco halts evictions as housing associations offer support

This news post is almost 6 years old

Legal bid halts evictions as third sector housing providers join to offer tenancy agreements

Pressure from campaigners and charities has granted a stay of execution for 300 asylum seekers in Glasgow facing eviction.

It comes as Glasgow’s housing associations joined to offer accommodation to those under threat of eviction.

Protesters mounted campaigns on Saturday targeting the Home Office and private housing provider Serco's offices. Activists also symbolically burned eviction notices in an act of defiance.

There has also been ongoing legal challenges mounted against Serco with lawyers lodging a legal challenge to one asylum seeker’s eviction notice at Scotland’s highest court, the court of session.

Serco, which runs accommodation on behalf of the Home Office, has now announced it will pause plans to evict the 300 - who have been told they cannot stay in the UK - until the law has been clarified.

Many of the homes Serco provides to asylum seekers are leased from housing associations. One, Parkhead Housing Association, plans to adopt a model whereby a Serco occupancy agreement is converted into a temporary social housing tenancy without the occupant having to relocate.

Graeme Aitken, director of operations at Parkhead, said he had written to Serco advising that the terms of the lease agreement “require our written permission to alter fixtures and fittings, and advised Glasgow city council that we will rehouse our local Serco tenants if evicted.”

Robina Qureshi, director of Positive Action in Housing (PAIH) hailed the move and said she expected other housing associations to follow Parkhead’s lead.

“Glasgow’s big players in the social housing movement, Parkhead HA, Queens Cross HA, Maryhill and NG Homes, have all now condemned Serco and are making moves to stop their abandonment of vulnerable people,” she said.

Graham O’Neill, policy officer for the Scottish Refugee Council, implored action from the Home Office.

He said: “The Home Office can only provide calm through taking clear action now. First, it must tell Serco to stop lock changes. Second, it should restore all proposed evictions to the oversight of a Scottish court’s due process.

“If not then the minimum is a far, far longer period of time than seven days, so that services and lawyers can work with those at risk of destitution to get them back into asylum or on to local authority or other safe forms of accommodation and support.”