Time for a public bid for asylum seeker services

Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, today used First Minister's Questions to call for a public bid for asylum seeker services in Glasgow in response to persistent allegations of mistreatment under the current private sector arrangement.

Serious allegations of poor quality housing, including a mother and baby housed in a cockroach-infested property in the city, have prompted a Commons committee inquiry. 

Following a Holyrood debate on 8 September, MSPs backed a motion amended by Green MSP Ross Greer calling for delivery and management of asylum support, accommodation and advice to Scotland, in line with the Smith Commission.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"People arriving in Scotland having escaped abuse and conflict abroad deserve a decent standard of accommodation and to be treated with respect. The Westminster Government privatised this service, giving Serco the contract who in turn subcontracted to Orchard and Shipman, who have utterly failed. There is little hope of improvement with the prospect of Serco taking full control.

"In the Scotland Welcomes Refugees debate earlier this month the Equalities Secretary spoke of the need for a review of the current contract. What refugees really need is hope that this service will be brought under public control with a humane approach. Today I pressed the First Minister to bring forward a public bid.

"Her response that the Government will give consideration to such a bid is welcome but there is no time to waste. We cannot allow such inhumane treatment to continue when the ability to change direction is now available to Scotland."