THERE was outrage yesterday as it was revealed that hundreds of asylum seekers could face eviction after accommodation provider Serco said it would start a long-planned lock changing programme.

And Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell has urged the Home Office to live up to its responsibilities and find a long-term solution that will not leave asylum seekers destitute and homeless.

Serco provides free housing to around 300 people in Glasgow, and first announced last July that it was issuing notices to tenants who had been denied the right to remain in the UK.

Legal action in April by two asylum seekers failed and in January it was revealed that Serco had lost the Home Office contract in Scotland, which will be delivered by the Gloucester-based Mears Group after September.

Serco said it was “not a step we have taken lightly”, but it would now restart the lock-change programme.

Julia Rogers, its managing director for immigration, said: “We very much regret the distress this will cause, but hope that it will be understood that we cannot be expected to provide free housing indefinitely to hundreds of people who have been unsuccessful in their asylum claims and most of whom have no legal right to remain in the UK. We call on all parties to work with us constructively to help people navigate their way through to a new future beyond the asylum system, and we will be making funds available to charities to support this work.”

The programme will be rolled out over the next four months with the company saying “no more than 30 people” will be issued with lock-change notices in any one week.

In her letter to Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes, Campbell asked her to take urgent action. She wrote: “The Home Office has to live up to its responsibilities. It is not acceptable to leave the asylum accommodation provider to deal with the inevitable results of a flawed system, and to wash your hands of the consequences.

“There must be a solution that supports people to move on from asylum accommodation without leaving them destitute and homeless.”

Graham O’Neill, policy manager at the Scottish Refugee Council, said: “We are outraged at Serco’s plan ... Serco and the Home Office are aware of several ongoing legal challenges against the lock change policy. Scots legal process has not been exhausted and we don’t believe the law in this regard has been definitively clarified.”

Mike Dailly, from Govan Law Centre added: “Our client has obtained the opinion of Queen’s Counsel, who has identified a number of different and substantial grounds of appeal with ... ‘a strong probability of success’.”