MPs’ fears realised over Blackburn with Darwen asylum contract

Switching care of asylum seekers from the public sector to a private company has not worked well, says a report

Switching care of asylum seekers from the public sector to a private company has not worked well, says a report

First published in News

THE controversial government contract transferring the accommodation of asylum seekers in Blackburn and Darwen from the council to private company Serco has today been condemned by MPs.

An all-party committee said the change was ‘poorly managed’, the first year ‘did not go well’ and accommodation given to refugees was ‘often unacceptably poor’.

In 2012 the Home Office replaced 22 small contracts to provide accommodation for destitute asylum seekers with six regional ones to save £140 million over seven years.

One, worth £175 million over seven years covering the North West, Scotland and Northern Ireland went to Serco. It took over the job in Blackburn with Darwen from the council.

In June that year, council leaders and MP Jack Straw expressed concern the company could double the number of refugees in the borough from 350 to 700, placing them in the wrong houses in the wrong areas.

They feared it could put ‘intolerable strains’ on the towns’ social cohesion and public services .

A deal promising no increase in numbers was struck with the Home Office and Serco just before implementation in October 2012.

Today’s Commons Public Accounts Committee report reveals some of Mr Straw’s fears were realised.

Chair Margaret Hodge said: “The change was poorly planned and badly managed and is unlikely to yield the savings intended.

“G4S and Serco failed to inspect and check the properties before taking them over.

“The standard of accommodation provided has often been unacceptably poor for a very fragile group.”

Mr Straw said: “Thankfully, the number of asylum seekers in the borough has not increased. We managed to avoid some of the worst problems highlighted in this report, but I am not surprised at its conclusions.

“This contract has required constant high-level intervention regarding its operation from senior officers of the council and myself as MP.”

The report concludes: “The transition to the new contracts was poorly managed by the Home Office.”

Serco and the Home Office had no immediate comment to make.

Comments (4)

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8:29pm Thu 24 Apr 14

CapitaBackHander says...

Accommodation was poor? Give me a free TV, Fridge Freezer, sofa , beds, pots and pans e.t.c and I won't complain! Know your market?
Accommodation was poor? Give me a free TV, Fridge Freezer, sofa , beds, pots and pans e.t.c and I won't complain! Know your market? CapitaBackHander
  • Score: 17

8:36pm Thu 24 Apr 14

phil kernot says...

Every human being is allowed to live in dignity,,, no matter were you come from ,,, if it has to come out of taxes ,,,so be it ,,, how much are say ther other rothchild family worth ,, enough to give every body a decent living in the third world ,,, but that's the rich for you no empathy ,, ,,
Every human being is allowed to live in dignity,,, no matter were you come from ,,, if it has to come out of taxes ,,,so be it ,,, how much are say ther other rothchild family worth ,, enough to give every body a decent living in the third world ,,, but that's the rich for you no empathy ,, ,, phil kernot
  • Score: -9

11:37pm Fri 25 Apr 14

Steven11 says...

phil kernot wrote:
Every human being is allowed to live in dignity,,, no matter were you come from ,,, if it has to come out of taxes ,,,so be it ,,, how much are say ther other rothchild family worth ,, enough to give every body a decent living in the third world ,,, but that's the rich for you no empathy ,, ,,
I totally agree with you , but why do we always end up in this country , housing , feeding , and being lumberd with them . Let their own countries deal with them , the UK is now full .
[quote][p][bold]phil kernot[/bold] wrote: Every human being is allowed to live in dignity,,, no matter were you come from ,,, if it has to come out of taxes ,,,so be it ,,, how much are say ther other rothchild family worth ,, enough to give every body a decent living in the third world ,,, but that's the rich for you no empathy ,, ,,[/p][/quote]I totally agree with you , but why do we always end up in this country , housing , feeding , and being lumberd with them . Let their own countries deal with them , the UK is now full . Steven11
  • Score: 11

12:05am Mon 28 Apr 14

fireonthemountain says...

Yes indeedy .

I am sick and tired of paying for The World .

Yes I am , and so are my wife and children .

Over half our income disappears in tax .

For what exactly ?

For one of our neighbours to live a stunning lifestyle with kids from
three different women . Massive flatscreen and sky and the latest phone .

For people to sneak into this country and then demand a free house
and giros . Which they get .

Meanwhile - here's a good idea - let's give £50 million A DAY to the EU .

I give up .
Yes indeedy . I am sick and tired of paying for The World . Yes I am , and so are my wife and children . Over half our income disappears in tax . For what exactly ? For one of our neighbours to live a stunning lifestyle with kids from three different women . Massive flatscreen and sky and the latest phone . For people to sneak into this country and then demand a free house and giros . Which they get . Meanwhile - here's a good idea - let's give £50 million A DAY to the EU . I give up . fireonthemountain
  • Score: 4

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