THE UK Government “must cease to use destitution as a policy tool” according to a report published today by a coalition of charities who have come together to “uphold the human rights of people seeking asylum”.

The report also outlines nine other recommendations for local, national and UK governments to prevent extreme poverty in immigrant communities. These include calling on the Scottish Government “to ensure lock changes are unlawful” in the wake of the Scottish Court of Session ruling that the Serco evictions were legal in November last year.

Fiona McPhail, principal solicitor at Shelter Scotland, said: “This case has highlighted dangerous weaknesses in our legislation which undermine people’s rights to a home in Scotland.

“It is profoundly worrying that private organisations working on behalf of the state do not have to respect people’s human rights.”

The coalition, which includes the Scottish Refugee Council (SRC), JustRight, and Shelter among others, has been working as a “collaborative social justice movement” since 2018, when Serco – a multinational private company subcontracted by Westminster to provide accommodation to those seeking asylum in Glasgow – announced that they would change the locks on people’s homes if they were no longer eligible for support, forcing them into homelessness.

Jen Ang, director of JustRight Scotland, said the coalition was able to “achieve a collaborative social justice that would have been unthinkable had we pursued our aims separately”.

She added: “We hope that we have started something that will continue to live strong, making steady progress towards protecting and supporting people’s housing and human rights in Scotland.”

The report maintains that “adequate housing” is a “central human right”. The Scottish Government and Westminster’s powers overlap on the issues of housing and immigration, so, the report says, all involved “must have regard to the human rights impact of their decisions”.

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The Home Office commented: “If someone has no right to remain in the UK then there is no legal basis to continue to provide support.

“It is right that they should take steps to leave.”

The spokesperson added: “We take the wellbeing of asylum seekers and the local communities in which they live extremely seriously. Together with charities and other stakeholders we have engaged with every individual affected, over a number of months, to provide advice and guidance on the support and options available to them.”

Other recommendations include restoring asylum seekers right to work, extra protections for people who face barriers to return which are beyond their control, and that the Scottish Government and local authorities ensure the anti‑destitution strategy announced in last week’s Budget does not fall short.

Graham O’Neill, policy manager at SRC, said: “It has been hugely inspiring to work alongside this group, but the fight is far from over.

“Almost two years on and we remain resolute that people seeking asylum should never have to face lock-change evictions, destitution and street homelessness, and we will keep fighting for people’s rights and pushing for fundamental change to the systems which enable destitution to happen.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson commented: “Scotland has a long and proud history of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world and we are sympathetic to those who face difficulty navigating the complex and increasingly restrictive UK immigration and asylum rules.”

The coalition will today play host to a range of policymakers, government ministers and representatives from across the sector at an event focusing on how change can be achieved.

The SRC said that the aim is to send a message that abuses of power will continue to be challenged legally, politically, and at a grassroots level.

Details of the event can be found at

The report was made available to download this morning via