Sweeping changes predicted to ensure homes are safe
New code requires providers to protect child asylum seekers
Housing providers working with asylum seekers will have to meet a tough new legal requirement to ensure homes are safe for children.
Campaigners have predicted that the new code of practice, which came into force on 6 January, could lead to sweeping improvements in many homes.
Until now, under the Children Act 2004, all government agencies had to have regard for the safety and welfare of children. The UK Border Agency had negotiated an opt out.
The Home Office, which oversees the UKBA, contracts private organisations to provide accommodation to asylum seekers. There have been numerous complaints about the standard of these homes.
A total of 7,805 families were supported in National Asylum Support Service accommodation in December 2007, according to the most up-to-date figures available.
Lisa Nandy, policy advisor on young refugees at the Children’s Society, said the code would change the way providers work.
Dave Stamp, project manager at charity Asylum Support Immigration Resource Team, said: ‘I was shocked when I found out recently that the UKBA had entered into a lot of contractual arrangements with private providers and didn’t even have a child protection policy in place.’
A spokesperson for the UKBA, said: ‘Our accommodation providers are subject to regular reviews and we will take appropriate steps where there is evidence that standards are not being met.’