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HOME OFFICE BLOCKS 400 BEDS FOR LONDON'S ASYLUM SEEKERS

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Four hundred family units in Glasgow set aside for asylum seekers are lying empty which London desperately needs an...
Four hundred family units in Glasgow set aside for asylum seekers are lying empty which London desperately needs and was previously promised.

Westminster City Council today confirmed that two coaches of asylum seekers should have left for these homes in Glasgow but families now languish in the London Asylum Seekers Consortium (LASC) reception centre. London authorities now have to make emergency plans to house them in expensive temporary accommodation.

LASC commissions accommodation on behalf of London authorities at a rate set by the home office. However, the National Asylum Seekers Support Service (NASS), the home office agency responsible for the dispersal of port-of-entry and Kent's asylum seekers, is pressing an unfair advantage by renting accommodation at rates with which local authorities cannot now compete.

This competition came to a head when LASC recently negotiated on behalf of the London authorities for 600 family units in Glasgow. Four hundred of the units have since been frozen in favour of NASS, because they are prepared to pay for empty properties which they cannot fill.

Chairman of Westminster's social services committee, Kit Malthouse, said:

'The home office dispersal programme is chaotic, and severely impedes the dispersal arrangements developed by the London Asylum Seekers Consortium.

'London's ability to disperse has ground to a halt because we are in competition with the home office, who are paying above their own set rates to keep spaces empty.

'Surely the priority should be for vulnerable asylum seekers to be taken from temporary B&Bs and placed in more suitable homes as soon as possible.

'The home office has pulled out all the stops to disperse Kent's asylum seekers, and they now need to turn their attention to the London boroughs where levels are continuing to rise.

'The situation is becoming increasingly desperate, and this may result in London having to use empty accommodation now available in Kent.'

Westminster City Council welcomes The Audit Commission report issued today which highlights the need for effective government action to deliver its promised dispersal of asylum seekers away from London and the South East. It also confirms that without full funding of local authority costs there is an unfair burden on London.

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