photography of broken door near room
Photo by Alexis Montero on Unsplash

As one of the richest countries on earth, the UK has a duty to those who arrive on our shores having fled war, violence, and other forms of persecution.

The Home Office has wiped its hands of that duty; handing out responsibility to unaccountable private companies like Clearsprings who are failing those we should be helping. In 2021, Clearsprings directors were paid £7 million in dividends after the company reported an annual profit of £4.4 million. In the same year, an investigation by the Guardian revealed residents housed by Clearsprings in accommodation that was “too small, dirty, damp and poorly maintained”.

This is the typical consequence of outsourcing public services. Private Companies profit hugely while failing to meet even the minimum standards required of them.

My office is regularly contacted by those asylum seekers who have been housed by private companies and the cruelty they experience never fails to shock me. My constituent Anna was terminally ill with breast cancer, yet was forced to live in communal accommodation with no access to private bathroom facilities. She was told that unless she assisted with cleaning, she would be evicted. Meanwhile, Maria contacted my office after being housed in cramped overcrowded accommodation with several other families – she is a victim of human trafficking.

Most recently I was contacted by an elderly asylum seeker who is completely blind. He has been placed by Clearsprings in a property that he is unable to navigate because of his blindness and been made to share a bedroom with a number of other people. Meanwhile a leak in that same bedroom means that when it rains, he gets wet.

These are typical cases, which will sound familiar to other Members of Parliament across the country. We know from complaints, investigations, and court cases that they provide an accurate assessment of the sort of accommodation private companies can provide to asylum seekers.

Instead of ending the contract with Clearsprings as it should have done, the Government has rewarded them for their failure with two, 10-year contracts worth over £1 billion.

It’s time that we stopped allowing private companies to profit from some of the most vulnerable in our society and brought these crucial services back in house. We have a duty to provide suitable and safe accommodation to all asylum seekers – but for as long as the primary goal of those providing that accommodation is profit, that accommodation will continue to fall well below the standards we have a right to expect.