reaction to Home Affairs Select Committee on housing for asylum seekers

Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary welcome the report of the Home Affairs Select Committee on Asylum Accommodation released today (17 November 2018).

We share the huge disappointment of the Committee that very little progress has been made by Government, despite recommendations in previous Committee reports (to which we had submitted evidence).

The recommendations of the Committee make a strong case for closer working with local authorities on inspection and standards.

Although there is supposed to be rigorous inspection by housing providers and the Home Office, we very much welcome proposals for inspections of accommodation, including the power to sanction, to be appropriately funded and given to local authorities.

It is Liberal Democrat policy that “Housing contracts will be monitored more effectively, with more accountability and transparency in their work.” The monitoring being delivered by locally accountable, democratic bodies will be able to make a huge difference to substandard accommodation, equipment, and poor responses to repair requests. Government funding for inspections will be better spent in this way, too, and ensure increased value for money spent by Government on the housing contracts.

A genuine partnership, as called for by the Committee, between the Home Office and Local Authorities, where they can share information and plans, will enable much better preparation for asylum seekers arriving locally, as well as continuing support.

The report identifies that the next few weeks are crucial to reset relationships. It is crucial that joint working with Local Authorities and the third sector takes place urgently, and that Local Authorities should have the full details of proposed contracts. Liberal Democrats will be pressing for this to happen.

We also note that the committee says that the 28 days “Move on period” is not sufficient and is a cause of destitution, by not giving local authorities time to process applications for housing. Liberal Democrat policy is “Increase the timescale for them to find their own accommodation after receiving a decision from 28 days to 60 days, and remove the time limit entirely for vulnerable people.”

Note.

This is the summary of the report. https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmhaff/1758/175803.htm

This is the conclusions and recommendations https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmhaff/1758/175808.htm

This is the full report, that the statement is based on https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmhaff/1758/175802.htm