LIVES are being put at risk by a Supreme Court ruling that accommodation provider Serco can go ahead with lock-change evictions, according to a campaign group.

No Evictions Network, which was launched almost a year ago to represent and help those under threat of evictions without a court order, said the issue would not “come to an end” after the current pandemic, and pledged to continue to fight the measure.

The campaigners’ comments came after the Supreme Court refused Shakar Ali, a Kurdish-Iraqi asylum seeker, permission to appeal in her case against Serco Group, which provided housing for refugees until losing the Home Office contract to Mears Group early last year.

They said: “Lives being put at risk and further strain on the already limited resources of those trying to eliminate the blight of homelessness from the city: this is the likely outcome of the refusal of the appeal.

“Though we welcomed the Home Office’s current three-month stop on evictions of asylum seekers during the Covid-19 crisis … we acknowledge that this issue will not come to an end after the current pandemic subsides.

“We cannot accept a return to the situation as it was before where Serco/Mears are again in the position to decide the fate of some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“We will be there. Our mission will be more crucial than it ever has been.”

READ MORE: Emergency powers to prevent evictions during Covid-19 crisis

The network also set out its three primary aims: pressing for an end to lock-change evictions which do not require a court order; ending the spontaneous visits or inspections which asylum seekers are often faced with; and the holding to account of private accommodation providers over their treatment of occupants. The group wants them treated in the same way as public bodies, including the right to appeal against decisions and a fair and independent complaints system.

The No Evictions Network was formed from a broad coalition of community organisations, including the tenants’ union Living Rent, Migrants Organising for Rights and Empowerment (More) and the Unity Centre, and said its support was continuing to grow.

One of its members, known as David, warned the court ruling would give Serco the power to force vulnerable asylum seekers from their home on to the streets “without recourse or notice”.

He told The National: “If we have learnt anything from the current pandemic, it is that the wellbeing of each person in society is linked.

“We hope that, in light of this, Serco, Mears and the Home Office will act responsibly, and not simply treat this as a licence to throw people onto the streets.”

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