Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell’s letter to Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp
Thank you for your letter of 15 September about asylum support cessations.
Your decision to restart the move on process for people with positive asylum decisions, who are permitted to work and to access other housing provision, is to be welcomed, as this will enable them to get on with establishing their lives here with certainty. I understand that Glasgow City Council and Mears are working well together to progress these moves.
However, I am utterly astonished and dismayed to learn that you are also pressing ahead with restarting move on processes for people with negative asylum decisions in the midst of a global pandemic that continues to threaten public health. This is particularly concerning following the recent significant increases in Covid-19 cases and the additional restrictions put in place this week by both of our Governments.
I believe that the pause the Home Office put in place on ending support to people at the end of the asylum process at the outset of the pandemic was the right thing to do to keep people safe and protected. It is extremely disappointing that this pause is now ending for those who are most vulnerable to destitution and homelessness at such a dangerous moment in our progress through the pandemic. The Scottish Government, local authorities and the third sector have all put immense effort and substantial resources into ensuring that everyone in our communities is safe and supported, with a roof over their heads, including those with no recourse to public funds. Now is very definitely not the time to be risking the delicate progress we have made.
As you may be aware, Glasgow was already subject to additional restrictions prior to this week, due to the public health concerns arising from increasing numbers of cases of Covid-19 in the city. With winter approaching and falling temperatures that may provide a more conducive environment for the spread of Covid-19, your decision is increasing the risk of having significant numbers of people on the streets with no support.
This is an extremely difficult time for everyone in our communities. However, we know that people from minority ethnic communities have been particularly adversely affected by Covid-19. This makes us all the more concerned about the impact of ending support to people with negative asylum decisions. You will be aware that there were significant concerns across communities in Glasgow, when Serco moved to evict people from their asylum accommodation two years ago. These concerns would be magnified in the event that people were threatened with eviction during a pandemic.
I recognise that there will come a time when move on processes will have to restart for people with negative asylum decisions. However, that must be done in a supportive way that does not leave people in limbo, and it must not take place until we have reached a point in our recovery where we can be confident that Covid-19 is no longer a significant risk to public health. I, therefore, urge you in the strongest possible terms to reconsider and delay the resumption of cessations of support to people with negative asylum decisions to ensure people stay safe and protected at this time.
I would welcome a discussion of this issue with you, and my office will be in touch to arrange a suitable time.