The Chief Inspector’s report on the Home Office’s management of asylum accommodation provision was published today (Tuesday 20 November). You can read the report here and the Home Office’s response to the report here.
As part of the report, Inspectors examined resources, policies, processes and performance in respect of the provision, by the Home Office, of asylum accommodation. Today’s report follows two other important examinations of asylum provision. These were the examination by the National Audit Office in 2014 and by the Home Affairs Committee (HAC) in 2017. Both found there to be space for significant improvement and suggested a range of recommendations.
In his report today the Chief Inspector highlights the poor quality of accommodation for people seeking asylum – a concern that has been raised many times before by the Refugee Council and many other stakeholders.
We warmly welcome that the Home Office has accepted not just some but all recommendations contained within this report.
It is also welcome that the Home Office has committed to developing a broad assurance action plan to address the issues raised and as well as consider their wider implication. We were pleased to have been mentioned within this action plan and look towards working more closely with the Home Office on some specific areas, including the actions arising from our research conducted with ASAP on the safety of women in asylum accommodation, see here.
The plan recognises that more needs to be done to fill the gap between the end of asylum support and the move to mainstream welfare support once an asylum applicant has status as a refugee. This remains a problem and the Refugee Council will continue to press for a cross departmental solution to ensure people do not become destitute and homeless at the very point that they ought to be thinking about their long term future.
Adults and families remain in asylum support accommodation for the duration of their asylum claim. The number of people who wait more than six months for their decision is rising; this means an increasing number of people are living in the poor conditions described in this report for rather longer than was ever envisaged. The Independent Chief Inspector reminded the Home Office of its concerns relating to the speed and quality of decision making, which is intrinsically linked to the state of the asylum support system.
Responding to the report today, Andy Hewett, Head of Advocacy at the Refugee Council, said:
“We are deeply concerned by some of the findings of this report, perhaps all the more so because of their familiarity. Yet again we are hearing of people seeking asylum – some of the most vulnerable in our society – having to live in accommodation that is of terrible quality. These findings are not new by any stretch but echo a whole series of concerns that have been raised by a multitude of stakeholders for some time.
“Whilst a concrete assurance plan is welcome, as is the recognition by the Home Office that some people have specific needs that should be considered by safeguarding experts, it has ignored the point made about people being routinely placed, with no choice, in the same room or same long term accommodation as unrelated adults. We support the recommendation that this policy is reviewed.”