UK Gov locking local authorities out of oversight of support services for asylum seekers in Scotland

The UK Government is locking local authorities out of the oversight of "humiliating and degrading" support services for asylum seekers in Scotland, according to Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens.

The UK Government has issued a tender document for asylum services for the next ten years, worth around £4bn, of which around half a billion is expected to be spent in Scotland.

Last year Mr Harvie urged the Scottish Government to be proactive in putting together a public sector bid to take on the provision of the services, with the First Minister saying she was happy to consider the suggestion.

Today at General Questions at Holyrood, Patrick raised the matter with Communities Secretary Angela Constance, who agreed that asylum services should be run by the public or third-sector but she did not commit to supporting such a bid for the current tender.  

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"Accommodation and support for people seeking asylum, often from extremely distressing situations, must be provided to a standard we can be proud of as a welcoming nation. The UK Government wants a cut-price and inadequate service because it wants a system that humiliates and degrades people.

"Current private sector provision has attracted serious criticism yet the new tender document doesn't appear to address these concerns, and local authorities are locked out of any oversight. 

"Given the impact on devolved responsibilities such as housing, health and education, the Scottish Government should support the creation of a not-for-profit bid for the tender. While it's welcome that Scottish Ministers agree that the service should be public or third-sector rather than for-profit, what matters most is putting that principle into action."