'Swathes' of UK refusing asylum seekers includes Theresa May's constituency

Some treatment of asylum seekers has been 'appalling', says a new cross-party report

Jess Staufenberg
Friday 04 March 2016 18:52
The cross-party committee said some parts of the UK were treating asylum seekers "unacceptably"
The cross-party committee said some parts of the UK were treating asylum seekers "unacceptably"

Theresa May's constituency has been singled out for criticism for doing little or nothing to take its fair share of the burden of housing Britain's asylum seekers.

Rural parts of the country not taking in any aslyum seekers are "unfairly" placing a burden on cities, according to a critical report by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

The cross-party report singled out areas including Ms May's own constituency, Maidenhead in Berkshire, which has housed none of the people waiting for their refugee status to be processed.

Such areas could soon be forced to offer accomodation to refugees under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act, the report warned, rather than leaving it to places with low-cost housing and councils which volunteer to house them.

"The dispersal system appears unfair, with whole swathes of the country never receiving a single asylum seeker," the report said.

"The majority are being moved into low-cost hosing in urban areas such as Glasgow, Stoke, Cardiff and of course Middlesbrough."

Mrs May's constituency is one of hundreds of local authorities that have taken zero asylum seekers. Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in October last year, Mrs May said the UK's asylum rulers "have been abused for too long."

Mrs May has said before that the UK's asylum system is being "abused"

She also said the Britain should be a "beacon of hope" to those who really need its help.

In 2014, the UK accepted 14,065 asylum applications. Germany accepted 47,555 in that time.

And of Syrian refugees, the UK has taken about 5,000 since 2011. Germany has accepted about 100,000 in that time - although it does receives more applications than the UK, according to FullFact.

Keith Vaz, Labour MP and committee chairman, said there were some "unacceptable" treatment of refugees in the UK.

"The compulsory wearing of wrist bands and the infamous red doors demonstrate an unacceptable attitude towards vulnerable people," he said, referring to accomodation in Middlesbrough for asylum seekers that had doors painted red.

In Cardiff, which is currently supporting 1,450 refugees, controversy was also sparked when people were made to wear wristbands to receive free meals.

The report said: "It was appalling that asylum seekers should be required to wear wristbands. This stigmatises asylum seekers, and makes them easily identifiable and therefore open to harassment and abuse."

Yet the report's greatest criticisms were laid at the doors of those councils which have taken in no asylum seekers at all.

Because of the refusal of other councils to take asylum seekers, towns such as Middlesbrough were seeing the stated threshold of one asylum seeker to every 200 residents "breached", the report said.

One of the companies which re-house refugees, Clearsprings, was cited in the report as saying it was "difficult" to find accomodation for asylum seekers in parts of the country.

"This is clearly made more difficult by some local authorities being unwilling to take part in the dispersal system," the report said.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments