Dispersal is the process by which the Home Office moves an asylum seeker to accommodation outside London and the South East, to specified local authority areas across the UK. They are first moved to initial accommodation while their application for asylum support is processed. Once the application has been processed and approved they are moved on to dispersal accommodation.
Glasgow is the only dispersal area in Scotland and currently supports c.5,000 asylum seekers. COSLA has worked closely with Glasgow City Council to support their approach to dispersal over a number of years. COSLA works with the council and other statutory services on a day to day basis to seek to manage the impacts of dispersal in the city and is also heavily involved in more strategic work that takes place under the auspices of the New Scots strategy.
Accommodation and associated support to asylum seekers in the city is currently provided by Serco. The current contract for the provision of these services finishes in 2019. A new contract procurement process is currently underway, with contracts being awarded from 2019-2029.
The UK Governement would like to see an increase in the number of local authorities that are dispersal areas. This is due to the concentration of asylum seekers in some regions and local authority areas and the impact that this can have on communities. The team has been facilitating discussions between the Home Office and local authorities about becoming dispersal areas. This is, however, a very challenging ask for local authorities given the lack of funding from government to support their role in the asylum process.
Glasgow Taskforce on Asylum
In August 2018 a taskforce, which included Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Refugee Council, COSLA, the Home Office and Glasgow and West of Scotland Housing Forum, was set up amid concerns about planned evictions of refused asylum seekers in the city. The lock changes have now been paused by Serco, while two legal challenges are heard in court.
Meanwhile, the taskforce has been developing ways in which the relationship between local authorities, the Home Office and their contractors can be recalibrated - to create more of a partnership approach and improve information sharing.
The recommendations were contained in a taskforce closing report (published March 2019) and were accepted by all partners, with a commitment from the Home Office to look at each one to determine what can be agreed and implemented.
Read our latest political papers on asylum dispersal HERE.
Last updated: 05/03/19