BBC Scotland: Aylum approval scheme discussed with Allan Casey

A surge in homelessness applications fuelled by rising numbers of people claiming asylum in the UK will pile massive pressure on Glasgow.

It comes as the probability strengthens that it will have to find homes for 1,400 people, council leader Susan Aitken has warned.

Meanwhile Cllr Allan Casey, Glasgow City Council’s Convener for Workforce and Homelessness and Addiction Services, admitted the situation was “deeply worrying”.

Experts predict the authority will need to find another 1,100 properties and an extra £27 million to meet its responsibilities as things stand.

However, the UK Government has not promised any additional cash, insisting action on backlogs was crucial, with “ample support” available for people making successful applications.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has set a target of clearing what is termed the “legacy backlog” by the end of 2023.

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Glasgow City Council is anticipating that it will process 2,500 asylum claims in that time, 1,800 of which are likely to be approved.

SNP councillor Ms Aitken, speaking after an emergency meeting to discuss the issue, said the Home Office is embarking on a course of action which would be “devastating” both for refugees and for cities across the UK.

She explained: “For Glasgow, a sudden cost of around £50m is simply unmanageable and the suffering caused to thousands of people who will suddenly be pushed into destitution is simply unimaginable.

“I want to see people humanely treated by the asylum system.

“Refugees and immigrants have enriched Glasgow’s culture for centuries and I am so proud that people want to make their home here.

“But this unstructured, unplanned and ill conceived action will cause massive harm to people and to institutions across the country”

The Home Office wanted to “free up space in the North of England and Scotland to allow them to empty hotels in the South”, Ms Aitken claimed.

She added: “They hope this will convince their voters they are getting a grip. Out of sight, out of mind is now the entirety of their asylum policy.”

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Mr Casey, speaking to on the BBC’s Scottish flagship news programme The Nine, said: “These figures are deeply worrying and there is potential to have a humanitarian crisis in Glasgow to be quite honest.

“We’re already facing really significant challenges in terms of our own homeless population already and these numbers are really just frightening and that’s why we have taken the people to our emergency committee today to really highly and beg the UK Government to pause on these decisions.”

Asked whether the authority would be able to find an extra 1,000 homes between now and the end of the year, Mr Casey said: “It’s impossible.

“We don’t have that accommodation in the city at this point in time.”

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “To minimise the risk of homelessness, we encourage individuals to make their onward plans as soon as possible after receiving their decision, whether that is leaving the UK following a refusal, or taking steps to integrate in the UK following a grant.

“We offer ample support once claims have been granted through Migrant Help, access to the labour market and advice on applying for Universal Credit.”

Anyone granted leave to remain in the UK, is given 28 days to leave accommodation provided by Mears, a contractor which offers asylum seekers support services to the Home Office.

After this, they can apply to the local authority for housing in accordance with homelessness legislation.

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