Tuesday, 03 March 2015

UK Border Agency calls on councils to ensure 339 individuals are not left homeless

G4S misses asylum seeker deadline

Councils in the north of England have been forced to provide accommodation for hundreds of asylum seekers because a private company failed to meet its deadline to rehouse them.

Contracting giant G4S should have taken over the housing of asylum seekers from councils in Yorkshire and Humberside on Monday on behalf of the UK Border Agency.

But on the 12 November deadline councils were still housing 339 of the original 1,468 asylum seekers in the region, with Kirklees, Leeds and Barnsley councils housing the majority. The local authorities now have a contract direct with the UK Border Agency to accommodate the asylum seekers for a further four weeks.

It is very disappointing that G4S failed to deliver on their contractual obligations

Kirklees Council

A spokesperson for Kirklees Council, which is still housing 112 asylum seekers, said: ‘It is very disappointing that G4S failed to deliver on their contractual obligations despite strenuous and repeated efforts [to help them] from the council.’

G4S was one of three firms awarded six contracts worth a total of £620 million by UKBA for housing asylum seekers earlier this year to save £150 million over the six-year life of the contracts.

The company, which was heavily criticised over failures on its security contract for the Olympic Games, has struggled to find private sector accommodation in which to house the asylum seekers, particularly in areas with higher rents. It has moved some individuals away from the communities in which they were living.

The UKBA declined to say what, if any, sanctions G4S might face.

Pete Widlinski, information manager at charity North of England Refugee Service, said between 150 to 200 asylum seekers had come to the area from Yorkshire and Humberside.

‘This puts more pressure on our one-stop services,’ he said. ‘We took a 62 per cent cut in funding which means we don’t have as many staff. We are really struggling with the numbers [coming to our service].’

Jim Steinke, chief executive of charity the Northern Refugee Centre, said the situation was a ‘mess’, adding that UKBA was yet to address G4S’s ‘incompetence on every level’.

The spokesperson for Kirklees Council said the authority was entitled to decline the request from UKBA to continue to house the asylum seekers because it no longer had legal or contractual responsibility. But he added: ‘At the same time, we also have to consider the welfare of individual people.’

Leeds Council was still housing 104 asylum seekers on Monday while Barnsley Council had 92 individuals.

G4S referred all press enquiries on the matter to the UKBA.

A spokesperson for UKBA said: ‘Our priority is to provide housing for those in need. UKBA continues to work with partner agencies to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum, and that people continue to receive the accommodation they require.’

Readers' comments (11)

  • The costs I assume would be passed on to G4 - throw the book at this incompetent firm.

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  • Outside Housing

    A spokesperson for UKBA said: ‘Our priority is to provide housing for those in need. UKBA continues to work with partner agencies to ensure any disruption is kept to a minimum, and that people continue to receive the accommodation they require.’

    When you say "partner agencies" that implies all working together for the common good, in this case the asylum seekers, some of whom will have already suffered plenty from their previous situation.

    I would hope no one considers G4S to be a legitimate or valid "partner". Every minute those in control of the G4S contract don't sanction them is another 60 seconds of bad judgement and shame on them.

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  • Catherine Meredith

    In September G4S said they were on track and that some areas would be complete by the end of the month. Hahaha, why does anyone ever believe a word that comes out of their mouths, one debacle follows another, shame on them.

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  • So where is the £620 million pound?

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  • Richard Mandunya

    This G4S is a nightmare contracting partner. I cannot imagine the UKBA standing by them, unless they themselves are worse competence wise.

    They messed up on a high profile event, [the London Olympics]. What is the guarantee they will deliver on this one? I think none.

    This government do not have a clue what they are doing. There are too many instances of them standing by while contracts are abrogated, at the expense of the taxpayer. We are getting a raw deal.

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  • What penalities are included in the contract?

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  • abner arrow

    Contracting giant G4S .....!

    Please don't make me laugh....

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  • £620 million to house people who should not be here. As I've said before the time to call a monitorium on accepting AS is long over due.
    Let charity begin at home and get all those British citizens who are homeless in homes first.
    all planes and ships should be checked on arrival and all AS should be kept on the plane or ship and the carrier made to take them back.

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  • Why would any organisation have anything to do with G4S after its lamentable Olympic performance?

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  • Junior Friday

    International and EU students can receive free hospitals etc, but all other international and European immigrants must have independent insurance to cover hospital and doctor bills as well as unemployment. Also make council housing/social housing only available to citizens born in the UK.

    The world and his wife all seem to be complaining about the flaws in immigration targetting, yet nobody appears to have come up with a better solution. It sounds suspiciously like a case of "this is all too complicated and costly for business, so let's just allow a net inflow of immigrants to continue forever."

    Problem is, if we allow more and more people in, then how on Earth do we cope with the consequences? As the population swells due to net immigration, so the pressure on housing is continually driven up, and we are forced either to concrete over an ever-greater proportion of the country (and that includes forking out through tax for hugely expensive hospitals, schools, roads and other infrastructure, as well as private housebuilding,) or to watch existing accommodation grow ever-more scarce, crowded and expensive as a consequence. Moreover, semi-skilled and unskilled immigration from lower-pay jurisdictions, in particular, leads to a downwards pressure on wages and makes it more difficult for the people who already live here to secure the finite number of job opportunities available in the economy.

    There are issues concerning the management of our borders and of the immigration bureacracy, of course, but the real elephant in the room is, as so often, the EU. The Government can attempt to stem the flow of migrants from the rest of the world, through better border security and points-based approval systems, but so long as the country remains completely open to EU immigration then it will continue to act as a magnet for people in many other parts of the continent where wages and living standards are substantially lower than they are in the UK. To date, we have experienced a net inflow of immigration from Poland alone (i.e. not counting all of the other countries that joined the EU at the same time) of over 600,000 people, and we can confidently expect several hundred thousand more to come pouring in from Romania and Bulgaria when the transitional restrictions on those countries' nationals expire in 2014.

    This results in exactly the effects which I describe above: more people = more pressure on housing, jobs and public services. We have to decide, as a country, whether we are going to reimpose control of our borders - which would presumably require withdrawal from the EU - or if this cure is even worse than the disease, and we must therefore resign ourselves to the total population of our little islands overtaking that of Germany even more rapidly than we previously thought.

    Economic migrants can't be dismissed as bad people, any more than the population already resident in the country. The problem is simply the fact that having too many of them turn up too quickly means that they arrive in greater numbers than the state can cope with, or that society can easily absorb. This problem can only be solved when we have sensible restrictions on the inflow of ALL foreign nationals, in much the same manner as the great majority of the other nations of the world.

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