A open letter written by a wide selection of academics and researchers revealing their fear over the new asylum housing contracts has been published in todays Yorkshire Post. Signed by academics from all across the Yorkshire region, including lectures from Leeds University and Leeds Metropolitan University, the letter explains that:
As researchers and university teachers in the fields of housing and immigration in the Yorkshire region we oppose the plans of the Coalition government, through the UK Border Agency (UKBA), to award national contracts of around £135 million for managing asylum seeker social housing to the three multinational security companies who manage most immigration detention centres, and forcible deportations in the UK; G4S, Serco, and Reliance.
Continuing to detail the various problems, both practical and ideological, with the contracting of these private companies to deliver crucial social services, the authors focus on the multinational corporation, G4S, that has been awarded the contract for the Yorkshire and Humber region. G4S is the second largest private employer in the world (on a similar level to Serco, another private company awarded a social housing contract for asylum seekers in England) and have numerous government contracts that amount to around £600 million.
Considering that some of these private companies have dubious records in their previous dealings with asylum seekers, it is hardly surprising that these new contracts are being met with such suspicion. The coalition can only remove state support if they are able to seamlessly integrate private companies to fill the gap. We must be critical, sensitive and resistant to these drastic changes to the fabric of social welfare, or we can expect to see it gradually destroyed by an influx of underregulated, profit-hungry private business. In the words of these Yorkshire academics, “We believe few people in Yorkshire if they were told would believe their taxpayers money should be awarded to such a company to manage asylum seeker housing.”