CALL FOR UK-WIDE ACTION: END LOCK CHANGE EVICTIONS

The multinational company Serco is contracted by the Home Office to provide accommodation for asylum seekers in Glasgow. They have consistently practiced lock change evictions, forcing our neighbours out of their homes without a court order and often with less than 14 days notice. The asylum seeker accommodation system is well-known for unacceptable housing standards and insufficient recognition of needs, and lock change evictions are a common practice that intentionally exacerbate the hardship of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

In September, Serco’s contract is taken over by the Mears Group. However, Serco has announced that until then they will press ahead with lock-change evictions of 300 of our neighbours, who allegedly cannot be transferred to the new contract. Despite public outrage and widespread condemnation, Serco say they “won’t budge from their eviction timetable” [1] and have offered no solution to what the head of Glasgow City Council has said will cause a “humanitarian crisis”. Two people have already been locked out of their homes [2] and Mears is claiming no responsibility, effectively enabling Serco’s abhorrent practices.

Since the announcement, Living Rent has worked to mobilise people around Glasgow. On June 27, Living Rent delivered a 21-day eviction notice to Serco’s Glasgow offices. This notice references the document that 300 asylum seekers are set to receive in the coming months. Civil society organisations across Glasgow have come together to support our neighbours and through the campaign the City Council, Housing Associations and the Mears Group have been targeted through direct action and asked to publicly speak up against the evictions. The courts have also passed 37 interim interdicts that prevent evictions [3].

As Serco is refusing to put our neighbours before their business interests, Living Rent is targeting the Caledonian Sleeper, one of Serco’s key business interests in Glasgow. The contract, awarded by Transport Scotland, is worth over £800 million to Serco but much of the investment is funded by the Scottish Government [4]. Living Rent promises to keep targeting the business interests of Serco until they stop the lock-change regime. 

The struggle to prevent Serco’s lock changes is crucial for Glasgow and beyond. The immediate crisis is clear: with no emergency accommodation in place and homelessness and asylum seeker support services at breaking point, hundreds of people are now facing living in total destitution on the streets. Long term, if we allow multinational corporations, bailiffs and private landlords to successfully carry out this level of violence in the face of mass public opposition, it sets a dangerous precedent for evictions in the future.

Therefore, we are calling on our allies across the UK to take a hard stance against Serco. We urge you to:

  1. Write to your MP to support Chris Stephens’ motion against lock changes, aiming to make sure that a legal process is put in place for evictions in the asylum seeker accommodation system and that the decision can be challenged.
  2. Have an action directed towards and/or deliver a letter to the office of the Asylum Housing Provider in your area.
  3. Ask you Council to not give any public contracts to the companies practicing lock change evictions, unless these decisions are reversed.
  4. Join us in taking action against the Caledonian Sleeper - these companies need to know that lock change evictions cannot be practiced on our watch.



Notes:

  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-49126126 
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jul/26/glasgow-asylum-seeker-evictions-serco-homelessness-crisis
  3. https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/53180/asylum-seeker-accommodation-evictions 
  4. https://www.transport.gov.scot/public-transport/rail/caledonian-sleeper-franchise/#