Home Affairs Committee: Asylum Accommodation Report

Statement from the Chair of West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership | 31 January 2017

By Councillor Roger Lawrence, leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council and Chair of the West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership:

“We welcome the findings of the Home Affairs Select Committee report. It identifies a number of points that authorities and frontline organisations have highlighted through the West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership and that I have been raising with ministers for a number of years now.

“Local authorities have a strong and positive history of welcoming asylum seekers and refugees and we are committed to working with the Government to improve the current system. The report highlights the need for a better joined up approach across the various schemes which we welcome and without this there is a risk of creating a two tier response to the detriment of the very vulnerable people and families who deserve better from us.

“To make matters worse it frequently impacts on those areas of the country that have faced the biggest reductions in Government grants. As you can see from the report, a small number of are shouldering an unfair burden. The report calls for immediate action to encourage more local authorities to agree to accommodate asylum seekers in order to ease the burden on existing areas, recommending that the Government uses its powers on this, provide greater funding and involvement from local authorities. We welcome this.

“We also previously raised the issue that hotel accommodation is wholly unsuitable. It fails to meet the often very complex needs of larger numbers of vulnerable people. Asylum seekers need to be treated properly and this means giving much greater consideration to social facilities and the wider support network that’s required. “Placing vulnerable people like these, with little or no advance notice, in local hotels isn’t an acceptable position and may have a negative impact on community cohesion.

“The continuing plea from local government to the centre is for a much more joined-up approach with early, open communication and closer working with the agencies working on behalf of central government.” As the report says: “The wellbeing of the individual, particularly those who are most vulnerable, has to be at the heart of a reformed asylum system.”

Download the report at this link: Asylum accommodation: House of Commons Home Affairs Committee