To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the UKVI in meeting its duty to inspect accommodation, to ensure that the provider is complying with the basic standards; and what matters arose from those inspections in the latest period for which data is available.
10 February 2021
The Government takes the wellbeing of asylum seekers extremely seriously. We provide asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute with safe, warm and secure accommodation, whilst their claims are being processed.
Since Napier Barracks opened as asylum accommodation, the Home Office has worked closely with Clearsprings Ready Homes and Migrant Help, providers of accommodation and advice services, and in partnership with local authorities, the police and other partners to ensure that the site operates safely, securely, and in accordance with public health guidance. In addition to support provided on site, Home Office officials have held discussions with asylum seekers about their concerns and to provide further reassurance, including about their safety, wellbeing and access to relevant healthcare services.
We expect the highest standards from our providers, who are expected to conduct regular checks across the accommodation estate. The Home Office have access to providers’ systems to monitor compliance. Throughout the pandemic, the ability to inspect accommodation in the usual way has faced some understandable logistical challenges, however we have robust systems in place to monitor and ensure continued accordance with the high standards of service we and those we accommodate expect.
Asylum seekers can also raise specific issues or concerns about their accommodation through the 24/7 Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility (AIRE) service operated by Migrant Help. The Home Office and our providers receive feedback on complaints raised through our regular dialogue with Migrant Help, which enables attention to be focussed on any areas of concern.
The Asylum Accommodation and Support Services contracts (AASC) have a robust performance management system, against which providers are expected to deliver. Where performance falls short of the required standard, failures are recorded and can result in the award of points and, ultimately, service credits being applied.
Providers’ performance is monitored closely by dedicated staff in each contract area, who are in daily contact with them. This is supplemented by a formal governance process which includes quarterly Strategic Review Management Boards and monthly Contract Management Groups. Service credits and subsequent improvement plans are discussed and monitored as part of this process.
Asylum seekers who are accommodated at Napier receive an induction which outlines the process for raising complaints. A booklet available in ten languages detailing the process is also issued to new arrivals.
Community support workers at the site can also support asylum seekers in accessing the AIRE service to raise a complaint. Providers’ staff will make clear to asylum seekers that registering a complaint will not affect their asylum claim.
The Home Office will continue to carefully review the operation of the site and will make any improvements necessary. We continue to work closely with our provider and partners to identify opportunities for improvement, as we do across our entire accommodation estate.
The Home Office does not publish statistics relating to medical treatment provided to, or complaints raised by, those accommodated at Napier Barracks and to provide these data could only be achieved at disproportionate cost to the department.