THE Scottish Government has expressed “deep concern” after Serco slashed eviction periods for asylum seekers from 21 days to just 14.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Aileen Campbell spoke out after the Home Office-appointed contractor issued letters accelerating its controversial lock-change programme.

The company says it has had to reduce the warning period as its UK Government deal is coming to an end next month.

Rival Mears Group will take over the supply of housing for those seeking asylum in Scotland from the end of September.

The change was confirmed after news of Serco’s lock-change policy – which will see “failed” asylum seekers lose access to their accommodation and face potential homelessness and destitution – triggered public outrage and an ongoing court challenge over the legality of the action.

The 21-day grace period had been agreed with the Home Office, but letters setting out the shorter two-week term have now been issued to some residents in Glasgow.

READ MORE: Serco cut notice period before throwing refugees on streets

READ MORE: Glasgow lawyers fight 'illegal' Serco asylum seeker evictions

Yesterday tenants’ union Living Rent held a “lock-in” protest at Glasgow City Chambers as it urged the council to do more to help those affected.

Annemarie O’Donnell, chief executive of the local authority, has told the body that it is powerless to make the law changes necessary to meet its demands.

But Green councillor Kim Long reissued calls for the SNP-led council and the Scottish Government to “guarantee an emergency housing safety net for anyone faced with eviction”.

At the weekend, the Sunday National told how 20 “panicked” people had contacted the Scottish Refugee Council for help after receiving 14-day notices. The charity called for “legal and procedural safeguards” and the Home Office said it does not have “the authority to sanction Serco’s actions” as those affected no longer have “legal basis” for asylum support.

Defending the decision, Serco’s Julia Rogers said it has given more than the legal minimum notice period of seven days.

However, Campbell called the situation “deeply concerning”, adding: “This is unacceptable and a symptom of the UK Government’s flawed asylum system. I previously wrote to the Home Secretary calling on her to intervene and ensure that people, who reach the end of the asylum process, are not left destitute and homeless in a country where they have sought refuge.

“The ongoing legal action should be allowed to reach its conclusion.

“If people are unable to leave the UK once they have exhausted their appeal rights, the Home Office must fund their accommodation provider to continue to house them. The Home Office must live up to its responsibilities and find a long-term, sustainable solution to this issue which respects people’s dignity and rights.”