Letter to the Independent 20 November
The claims made in relation to G4S’ delivery of the COMPASS programme are inaccurate and misleading and present an unbalanced picture of the service being provided to asylum seekers (Another G4S blunder: Councils attack security giant after housing contract shambles leaves families living in squalor - 20/11).
Your piece claims local authorities in Yorkshire are being forced to house asylum seekers after G4S failed to meet a deadline to re-house them in private sector accommodation. This is not the case. G4S is not in breach of our contract with UKBA to house asylum seekers in Yorkshire and Humberside.
We received written agreement on 9th November from UKBA and the current housing providers, the Local Authorities, that the deadline for rehousing all those concerned would be 7th December. Plans to move those affected - which were agreed by all three parties - are well underway and we are confident of meeting this deadline.
Your article also claims that families with children have been impacted ‘unjustly’ with some being moved away from their current school areas. This is not the case. Where families with children have needed to move, we have found alternative accommodation nearby. No child has been forced to move school as a result of G4S taking over the contract to provide housing for asylum seekers. Where they have done so it has been of their own volition.
You report that asylum seekers in the region are living in ‘squalor’. The welfare of the people in our care is our top priority and any suggestion that G4S has rehoused people in poorer quality housing is not true. All our properties must be contractually compliant before people are allowed to move in.
We monitor the quality of our accommodation partners’ properties and run the contact centre where our customers report problems. Of the 59 complaints about properties we have received so far, the majority, 38, have been reported by people who have not been required to move, rather than from those people who have moved to houses sourced by G4S. Many customers will see an improvement in their accommodation in the coming weeks as we review the historic stock of housing, to ensure that it is compliant with the higher standard set within the COMPASS contract.
When your correspondent originally contacted G4S about this story, we offered to look into individual cases where people had complained about poor quality housing. This offer was not taken up, but I am happy to repeat this and personally investigate these concerns.
Group Managing Director, G4S Care & Justice Services
In response to this issue, a UK Border Agency spokesman, said:
“Our priority is to provide housing for those in need.
“Where people do need to move proper consideration has been given to ensure minimum disruption, no school children have been required to move school.
“Contracts for asylum services have been awarded to providers that demonstrated that they could meet our high standards of support and ensure the welfare of individuals.
“We expect the new accommodation providers to fulfil the terms of the contract and we are working closely with them to ensure that the majority of people will continue living in their current properties.
“G4S are not in breach of contract. The closure of the previous private sector contracts was delivered on schedule and G4S are in the final weeks of the transfer of the services that had historically been delivered by the public sector.”