As House of Commons report shows “chronic and systematic” failures in UK refugee provision, Scots politician demand redress
SCOTTISH REFUGEE SETTLEMENT should be devolved to Holyrood according to Scottish politicians, following a report into their housing and care administered at a UK level.
The Westminster home affairs committee said that the poor standard of short and long term accomodation was of “immediate concern” undermining any efforts at ensuring comfort for refugees fleeing war and persecution.
The SNP and Scottish Green party have both suggested that greater powers over people seeking refuge in Scotland would allow the country to contribute more to easing the global refugee crisis, especially given the climate since the election of US President Donald Trump.
“[Devolution] should see a new role for the Scottish Government so that some cohesion and planning can be brought to the process.” Stewart McDonald
Stuart McDonald, SNP MP for Glasgow North and a member of the committee that produced the report, said: “No longer can Home Office ministers and accommodation providers insist that everything is ok – this comprehensive report shows beyond doubt that the current system is totally unfit for purpose.
“It has been used by successive UK Governments to save pennies, when instead their priority should have been ensuring the safety and wellbeing of asylum seekers.
“That should see local authorities given the resources and powers to carry out their duties properly and a new role for the Scottish Government so that some cohesion and planning can be brought to the process.”
In a notable testimony, a witness described how her kitchen had been “full of mice”.
However, the report also praised the UK Government’s Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement programme which, although the subject of criticism for not including refugees who had travelled into Europe, was noted as being effective in allocating a good amount of extra resources and having greater involvement from local authorities in planning for refugee intake.
“Scotland is a welcoming country, keen to do more to help refugees and asylum seekers but limited by the UK Government.” Ross Greer MSP
Advocates from Scotland have long argued that a greater degree of cooperation and funding directly to local authorities would enable refugees to be situated in a safer, better and sustainable manner.
Last year the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) said that a “national set of standards for refugees” should be implemented in Scotland to provide an example to the rest of the UK on how to provide housing and healthcare to refugees and those with asylum status. This recomendation is in line with one of the chief recommendations of the report – that there should be health screenings for refugees before they are allocated temporary accommodation to ensure full care.
Additionally, SRC said the devolved governments should be given “a significant role” in deciding arrangements the fair distribution of accommodation.
“This report backs up what asylum seekers in Scotland have been saying about the horrendous treatment inflicted on them.” Ross Greer
Ross Greer, Green MSP and external affairs spokesperson for the Scottish Greens spent last year highlighting the poor state of asylum accommodation in Scotland.
He said: “This report backs up what asylum seekers in Scotland have been saying about the horrendous treatment inflicted on them. The calls for the UK Government to act cannot continue to be ignored.
“In September last year, the Scottish Parliament voted for my motion to have asylum services devolved so we can end this inhumane treatment here. Scotland is a welcoming country, keen to do more to help refugees and asylum seekers but limited by the UK Government.”
A spokeswoman from the Home Office said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and we are committed to providing safe and secure accommodation while applications are considered. We have also made significant improvements to the operation of the contracts, including increasing the number of dispersal areas by more than a third.”
Picture courtesy of Illias Bartolini
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