Council calls for end of block on asylum support
Glasgow Council has demanded the UK government allows it to help asylum seekers, saying the number living on the streets is a ‘humanitarian crisis’.
The authority has passed a motion calling on the government to change rules that restrict local authorities on the support they provide to failed asylum seekers.
The motion, proposed by Glasgow councillor Susan Aitken, was supported by 68 councillors at a full council meeting at the end of last month.
It instructed the chief executive of the council to write to the UK Border Agency demanding it changes its rules and allows local authorities to assist refugees in danger of destitution.
Glasgow Council used to provide accommodation for around 1,300 asylum seekers until the UKBA terminated its contract last year. Failed asylum seekers have no recourse to public funds or help with accommodation unless they have an appeal or fresh claims that are being seriously reviewed by the government.
Ms Aitken’s motion stated that the council believes the number of asylum seekers on the streets of Glasgow ‘represents a humanitarian crisis that requires an urgent response’.
It also said the council endorses a recommendation from the Scottish Refugee Policy Forum that all asylum seekers should be provided with UKBA cash support until they are granted status or leave the country.
Gary Christie, head of policy and communications at the Scottish Refugee Council, said: ‘Glasgow Council for over 10 years, with the support of all political parties, has provided a welcome and humane response to the arrival of people seeking asylum.
‘The council, statutory agencies, voluntary, community and faith organisations have all played a role in helping refugees to rebuild their lives in safety and contribute to Glasgow’s economic, cultural and social life.
‘By taking this stand against asylum destitution, the council is sending a strong message to the UK government that its inhumane and ineffective policy of forcing people who have been refused asylum into abject poverty onto the streets of our city is utterly unacceptable to the people of Glasgow.’
He urged other councils to follow the lead of Glasgow and appeal to the government to change the rules around asylum and destitution.