G4S places refugees in sub-standard homes

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The Independent Online

Local authorities have been forced to help out G4S after the security giant failed to deliver another public-sector contract on time – just months after the Olympics security fiasco.

Hundreds of asylum-seekers in Yorkshire were left in council housing after G4S failed to meet a deadline to rehouse them in private-sector accommodation. G4S was one of three firms awarded six contracts worth a total of £620m over seven years by the UK Border Agency for housing asylum-seekers – undercutting several experienced public and voluntary sector consortiums.

G4S has sub-contracted the house searches to four companies in Yorkshire and the north-east. They have struggled to find enough cheap accommodation in time to meet their deadline.

Complaints have been filed after families say they were being moved to unsuitable or dirty properties at short notice, as G4S tried to make the 12 November contractual deadline.

Leeds Council is investigating the condition of some properties where G4S rehoused asylum-seekers.

The chief officer for statutory housing at Leeds Council, Liz Cook, said: "We did not have the confidence to enter into a commercial relationship with G4S after they failed to deliver what had been jointly agreed, but [we] are a socially responsible public-sector organisation and therefore would not evict vulnerable asylum-seekers families – and G4S knows it."

In the bidding for asylum-seeker contracts, Leeds was part of a consortium that bid £12 to £13 per person per night – losing out to a G4S bid that was reported as being between £6 and £12 per person per night.

Ms Cook added: "I do not see how G4S can provide adequate accommodation at that cost... We are concerned about the quality of some properties which we are investigating."

G4S told i that it rehoused 275 people last week and there are now only 78 households left.

A spokesman added: "Any suggestion that G4S has rehoused people in poorer quality housing is simply not true. We have strict standards in our contract with UKBA and many people will see an improvement in their accommodation in the coming weeks as we review the historic stock of housing, to ensure that it meets decent standards."