Hotels are no place for unaccompanied child asylum seekers

Scotland must challenge and dismantle the Home Office's racist and hostile environment.

No unaccompanied children seeking asylum should be housed in hotels, says the Scottish Greens justice spokesperson Maggie Chapman MSP.

This follows a report by the Scottish Parliament's Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee, which heard conflicting and contradictory evidence on whether Scottish hotels were being used to accommodate children seeking asylum.

Ms Chapman, who is deputy convenor of the committee, has called for urgent clarity from the Home Office and the Scottish Government and an end to this cruel practice.

Ms Chapman said:

“This is an important and also deeply concerning report. Unaccompanied children should never be housed in hotels. 

“Such institutional accommodation does not serve vulnerable and marginalised people well, and certainly does not support positive mental or physical health, or integration with the wider community.

“It is totally inappropriate and it is alarming that there is contradictory evidence on something so basic and fundamental. The Scottish Government and Home Office must provide urgent clarity.

“This particular issue does not exist in isolation. The practice of using hotels as accommodation has become a normalised part of the Home Office’s racist and hostile environment towards refugees, people seeking asylum and migrant communities. 

“The Scottish Government may have limited powers over asylum and migration policies, but it does have powers over housing, health care and other Scottish services. So, it must do everything it can to ensure these services are provided effectively. It must also actively challenge the authoritarian, cruel and racist Home Office system and act to dismantle it.”

The Committee also called on the Scottish Government to develop a plan for a Scotland-wide rollout of free bus travel for people seeking asylum before the end of this parliamentary session.

Ms Chapman added:

“A lot of refugees come to Scotland with little more than the clothes they are wearing. They are given almost no support from a UK Home Office that is actively working against them.

“The rollout of free bus travel to everyone under 22 has made a huge impact on household budgets. Extending it would be a real and tangible step that could make a big difference to a vulnerable community.”