Glasgow aims to pilot changes to the asylum process

Written by Jenni Davidson on 5 March 2019 in News

A multi-agency taskforce has recommended reforms to the asylum process including allowing asylum seekers to work

Glasgow - Image credit: John Lindie/CC BY 2.0

Glasgow could become the first city in the UK to pilot changes to make the asylum process easier after a multi-agency taskforce recommended a number of reforms.

The taskforce, which includes the Home Office, has recommended allowing asylum seekers to work from six months after they submit their claim until the final decision on their application is made to allow them to support themselves and ease pressure on social services.

The multi-agency group also wants all asylum seekers to be able to register in regional centres such as Glasgow – which only families and vulnerable people can do at present – and make further submissions there.

Currently asylum seekers have to travel to Croydon at their own expense to register and go to Liverpool to make further submissions.

In addition, the group called for the creation of a regional partnership board to commission, monitor and report on ongoing work on asylum in the city with members to include Glasgow City Council, Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, the Home Office, Mears, Serco and COSLA.

The taskforce was made up of Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Government, the Home Office, the Scottish Refugee Council, COSLA and Glasgow and West of Scotland Housing Forum.

It was set up last summer following concerns about planned evictions of refused asylum seekers in the city.

The planned lock changes have now been paused by Serco, while two legal challenges are heard in court.

Meanwhile, the taskforce has been looking at ways to change the relationship between local authorities, the Home Office and their contractors to create more of a partnership approach and improve information sharing.

The recommendations were contained in a taskforce closing report 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.

Chair of the asylum taskforce and chief executive of Glasgow City Council Annemarie O’Donnell said: “When people come to our city looking for help, Glaswegians want to ensure we do everything we can to assist them.

“This piece of work has been carried out in an open and honest environment and I want to thank colleagues from the Scottish and UK governments, COSLA, Serco, Scottish Refugee Council and the West of Scotland Housing Forum for the way in which they have approached this.

“I am confident that the recommendations in this report, and the work that we will now do together, will allow us to do much more to support some of the most vulnerable people seeking asylum in the UK and in our city.”

Glasgow receives the highest number of asylum seekers of any UK local authority area and the council believes it is well placed to pilot the new processes and then share its learnings with other local authorities.

However, the proposals would not lead to higher numbers of asylum seekers being sent to Glasgow as dispersal would still be managed by the Home Office, with ongoing monitoring through the new partnership board.

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