The Home Office is fast tracking asylum claims to clear their backlog. While this is welcome news, there has been no thought given to how these proposals will impact those who have been granted asylum status’ access to housing.
Mears, a FTSE 100 company who the UK government has outsourced the provision of accommodation for those seeking asylum, is forcing some people to leave their asylum support accommodation within just seven days after a positive application.
With no housing or financial support in place, this will push thousands of people into homelessness. Previously, people had twenty eight days to apply for new accommodation, apply for a job or for a new system of benefits, and still people struggled. Faced with just a quarter of that time, people will find it near impossible.
We know how stretched the housing in this city is, we know how difficult it is to get into temporary accommodation. With a lack of public services able to receive them, Mears’ actions will push 1,400 people onto the streets.
Our position as a union is clear: we are against these evictions; we are against homelessness; we will fight those who hold power, property and wealth in their hands; and we will not allow Mears to take these actions against some of the most vulnerable people in our city.
Mears has received over one billion pounds in contracts from the Home Office to provide homes through housing associations, private landlords and hotels to those seeking asylum.
But despite receiving huge amounts of money from UK taxpayers, again and again Mears have shown themselves to act irresponsibly and recklessly with the safety of those in their care. In 2020 Adnan Olbeh, a Syrian refugee died after being put in a hotel by Mears. In 2023, they left an asylum seeker abandoned on the streets after he’d travelled 350 miles up from London. In 2020 they were kicked out of Brighton for overcharging by £500,000 for a plasterer. The same year Mercy Baguma, a refugee from Uganda was found dead next to her malnourished baby in Mears run housing.
In 2023 Mears CEO David J Miles, their Finance Director Andrew C M Smith, and their former Executive Director, Alan Long, were remunerated a combined £2.17 million.
Forcing people recently granted asylum onto the streets, is part of the broader hostile environment that Mears, successive Home Secretary’s and our media have created that criminalises people who have been forced to move.
At the same time our government’s have failed to invest in public services and have decimated our social housing stock to the extent that those on waiting lists are forced to compete for crumbs. They have tried to turn the wider public against some of the most vulnerable people, who are searching for safety and security in order to build a better life for them and their children.
The UK has one of the biggest economies in the world. Our governments have the money to house us all. They are choosing not to. We are clear in saying: the housing and homeless crisis we face in the city are the fault of our governments and those in power.
Members of Living Rent Glasgow demand that Mears:
- Halts the eviction of anyone who has been granted refugee status to ensure that no one ends up sleeping rough
- Creates a task force to support refugees getting universal credit and finding a home
The working class people of Glasgow hold the key to defending their neighbours against these evictions. And as a union committed to building neighbourhood power, we are calling for the people of Glasgow to come out and challenge the hostile environment. Kenmure Street showed the power we have when we stand together.
It’s time to turn the city against Mears. Do you oppose Mears evictions? Get organised and sign below.