"The state of accommodation for some asylum seekers and refugees in this country is a disgrace. And the current contract system just isn't working. Major reforms are needed.
We have come across too many examples of vulnerable people in unsafe accommodation for example children living with infestations of mice, rats or bed bugs, lack of health care for pregnant women, or inadequate support for victims of rape and torture. No one should be living in conditions like that.
Even where the accommodation and support are of a good standard, it is still far too concentrated in the most deprived areas. It is completely unfair on those local authorities and communities that have signed up and are now taking many more people, when so many local authorities in more affluent areas are still doing nothing at all.
The Home Office needs to act urgently to raise standards, improve the inspection regime, deal with delays in asylum claim processing which are pushing the numbers up and ensure there is adequate funding.
The current contract system is badly designed and puts local authorities off from signing up. Ministers should learn from the success of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme which has given local authorities far more control and has also got far more local authorities involved. Similar reforms are needed for asylum seekers. But ultimately if local authorities still fail to sign up, then Ministers should be prepared to use their powers to insist that areas do their fair share.
And when the current contracts run out, they should be replaced with a completely new system – handing power back to local areas to decide on asylum accommodation rather than this top down approach.
The scale of the international refugee crisis means Britain must continue to do its bit to help asylum seekers and refugees in need of sanctuary. And we should be proud to do so. But that means it is vital that the Home Office makes sure the system is working – to support vulnerable people and local communities too."