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SASW condemn Serco evictions of asylum seekers in Glasgow

Forceful action labelled "shameful" by national director, Alistair Brown...

The Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) has condemned moves by Home Office contractor Serco to evict asylum seekers and refugees from properties in Glasgow.

SASW National Director Alistair Brown said: “It is shameful that the Home Office is forcing through these evictions despite various organisations and expert groups highlighting the very real harm and destitution they are causing, and will continue to cause, to vulnerable people and families.”

SASW is calling on the Home Office should stop the evictions immediately and ensure arrangements are made for emergency accommodation for those already affected.

Glasgow City Council has said it wants to offer emergency support but feels unable to because of UK Government legislation.

“This is leaving social workers in an impossible position of trying to uphold human rights of families affected while their employer argues it is unable to provide support and resources that would allow them to do so,” said Brown.

“Evictions should stop pending outcome of current Court of Session cases addressing their legality.”

He added: “The Home Office, Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council must find a solution to this impasse urgently.”

This could include reassuring local authorities that they will not be breaching legislation in acting to prevent destitution with resources separate to ‘public funds’ such as welfare and homelessness.

Councils could then have discretion in providing anti-destitution support from existing emergency social work arrangements, which are not a public fund, for highly vulnerable people who have often experienced serious trauma.

Furthermore, the Scottish Government could act to support the Councils most affected.

“In the meantime, we urge any social worker involved in these cases who feels unable to meet their professional responsibilities and codes of ethics to get in touch.”

SASW pointed to several professional documents highlighting social workers’ duties of support. These include:

  • Under the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) Code of Practice social workers are required to support their service users fully. Failing to do so could lead to their registration being challenged. Employers therefore need to ensure that they are supported and able to fulfil these responsibilities.
  • The BASW Code of Ethics says members must challenge unjust policies and practices, bringing this to the attention of our employers, policy makers, politician and the general public.   
  • The International Federation of Social Work definition which states that “principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work”.
  • SASW and Unison joint guidance which can be found here 

SASW, UNISON Scotland and voluntary sector agencies have previously issued joint statements on this area through the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) Working Group which meets again on 12th Sept to discuss with COSLA and Scottish Government Colleagues to discuss the development of an anti-destitution policy.   

If social workers become aware of service users at risk they can discuss options with Scottish Refugee Council on their helpline on 0141 223 7979. 

Further information