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Refugee Charity Exposes Firms Making Millions by Exploiting Asylum Seekers

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Refugee Action, a prominent advocate for a more equitable asylum system in the UK, launched a striking campaign on Sunday, October 15, 2023, shedding light on companies that are profiting from the government’s contentious asylum system, as reported by Left Foot Forward.

Termed the ‘Most Wanted’ campaign, it seeks to expose these companies, emphasizing the dire need to transfer responsibility for asylum accommodation from private firms to local authorities.

In a startling revelation, the charity indicates that, in 2019, the government allocated a colossal £4 billion over a decade to three contractors—Serco, Mears, and Clearsprings Ready Homes—to provide asylum seekers with accommodation.

Furthermore, these contractors continue to reap over £8 million daily for providing contingency accommodation in hotels, accumulating a staggering £2.28 billion in the 12 months leading up to March, 2023, according to Refugee Action.

The campaigners express their dismay at the exorbitant profits reaped by these companies through the asylum system, describing it as “scandalous.”

They also raise concerns about the lack of transparency and monitoring in the awarding of these lucrative contracts by the Home Office.

Despite numerous complaints, fines, and scandals, these companies, the charity notes, continue to receive substantial government funding.

One particularly striking example cited by the ‘Most Wanted’ campaign is Serco, which secured a £45 million Covid-19 test and trace contract in 2020, despite being subjected to a £1 million fine for failing in its asylum accommodation contract in 2019.

Clearsprings Group, another Home Office contractor, reported substantial profit increases in its 2021 strategic report.

This company, which boasts of being “one of the largest providers of housing to the Home Office,” increased its profits from £4,419,841 to £28,012,487 during the year ending January 31, 2022.

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Dividends surged from £7 million to a staggering £27,987,262, with three directors sharing dividends nearing £28 million. Troublingly, flats provided by Clearsprings were deemed ‘not fit to live in,’ marred by issues like damp, mold, water leaks, and pest infestations.

Mears Group, another housing provider, has also faced criticism and scandals over the conditions of properties designated for refugees.

In a particularly concerning incident in May, 2023, an asylum-seeking family was placed in a boarded-up block of flats near a derelict estate by Mears Group, raising serious concerns about the quality of asylum accommodation.

These examples underscore the urgent need for reform in the UK’s asylum system. Refugee Action calls on the government to transition to a “not-for-profit” asylum accommodation system and explore alternatives.

One such option involves collaborating with Local Authorities and NGOs to provide suitable, high-quality community-based accommodation.

Asli Tatliadim, Head of Campaigns at Refugee Action, stresses that the current asylum accommodation contracts have become a “licence to print money” for contractors, and she insists that it’s high time for the government to allocate public funds to protect refugees and enhance vital services for everyone.

The campaign aptly highlights the pressing need for a fairer and more compassionate approach to asylum accommodation in the UK, addressing the glaring disparities and mismanagement that currently persist.

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Birminghamgist Staff is a News Reporter, making waves in the UK with insightful and Engaging reporting.

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