WESTMINSTER HALL DEBATE ON PROBLEMS WITH ASYLUM HOUSING CONTRACTS

This debate on the problems around the existing housing contracts, and the new one’s due to start in September 2019 were debated in Westminster Hall on 10th October 2018.

Lib Dem Ed Davey MP spoke out on the issues, and how badly the new contract was being handled, a huge contract of £4 Billion over 10 years. He demanded to know why Local Authorities have not been asked to provide accommodation under the new contract, they would be able to deliver in a better and more cost effective way.

Also he wanted to know how the new contract will be monitored effectively. LD4SOS think that is key to making any contract work well, and should be able to deal with issues that are not covered in specifications too. The new contract must be legally enforceable, Ed said, for minimum standards.

He pointed out, though, that the Statement of Requirements for the contract ( the real detail that affects who people living in the accommodation are affected every day) has not been put in front of MPs or even the Home Affairs Select Committee.

The problems of forced bedroom sharing were raised. He referred to earlier statements and said “We hear about people who left a country because they were afraid of another group of people in that country or a neighbouring country, and who, in this country, are being asked to share a room with people whom they tried to escape from or who are from a group they tried to escape from. The lack of sensitivity and understanding of the mental health needs of such people is extraordinary, so my second question is, can we go beyond just protecting an undefined group of vulnerable people? Can we not get to a point where people simply do not have to share bedrooms? It does not seem too unreasonable a question to ask or too unreasonable a criterion to have in the new contracts.”

In moving the debate, Alex Cunningham MP for Stockton North, raised the issue of the very poor quality thin duvets being issued in Stockton. One of our LD4SOS council members had been able to discuss this, and take an example to Alex. This is the clip of him talking about it https://www.facebook.com/acunninghammp/videos/306724463249555/.

You can see our polices here http://libdemfocus.co.uk/ld4sos/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/10/Life-as-an-asylum-seeker.pdf

“Liberal Democrats would rewrite all future government-tendered contracts for asylum-seekers’ housing, to ensure: that a local authority or group of local authorities can compete for them; that housing conditions which compromise human dignity, such as forced bedroom sharing for unrelated adults, will be grounds for termination; that existing specific laws on rental housing standards will be fully applicable. Every effort will be made to terminate any current contracts that do not meet these last two conditions.

Housing contracts will be monitored more effectively, with more accountability and transparency in their work.

We would abolish all forced bedroom sharing of unrelated adults. It is completely wrong that an asylum seeker has no place for privacy. Also it is wrong that those with no shared language, country, culture, or faith have to share bedroom space.”