Campaigning works, say Yorkshire groups, as G4S forced to drop private landlord UPM from asylum-housing contract.
Yorkshire campaigners against G4S, led by Bradford-based Why Refugee Women and Sheffield-based South Yorkshire Migration & Asylum Action Group, have forced the UK Border Agency and G4S to remove private landlord UPM from the £30 million contract to take over asylum housing in the region. On Monday G4S quietly removed the name of UPM from their website.
Yorkshire campaigners in South Yorkshire, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds and Nottingham, are working alongside activists, academics, asylum seekers, and housing professionals in the Yorkshire Region Plus NotoG4S Campaign to raise awareness, contest and monitor the massive public handout to the world’s largest private security firm G4S and get it off the contract.
Already, as I reported on OurKingdom three weeks ago in a piece entitled “G4S asylum housing, the evictions begin,” UPM had brazenly dumped a Bradford mother and three month old baby with health problems in a tiny Doncaster flat with no adequate washing facilities, no table or chair, 40 miles away from her local networks and health support.
Yorkshire campaigners called for UPM to be sacked from the contract and on Monday they were, but with mother and child still in the Doncaster flat where they have been for over a month, which the Border Agency itself declared was “contractually non-compliant” and “not suitable in its present state for mothers and babies”.
An application was lodged on Tuesday with Doncaster Safeguarding Children’s Board for the mother and child to be immediately rehoused by the local authority. UKBA has refused to move her to more suitable accommodation back in Bradford.
Before G4S had to drop UPM in Yorkshire they added a small charitable housing association to their list of subcontractors. Target Housing, based in Sheffield, say its “primary client group” is “offenders, ex-offenders and those at risk of offending”, and its aim is to “help vulnerable people develop independent living and a crime free lifestyle”. Hardly a suitable organisation to work with asylum seekers who are already ‘crime free’ but often traumatised and vulnerable.
Three other property development, letting and investment companies have emerged to take over from UPM to provide accommodation for asylum seeker tenants facing evictions beginning later this month.
- CASCADE HOMES LTD, a small Leeds-based private sector landlord
- LIVE MANAGEMENT GROUP a property management company, and
- MANTEL a “commercial developer and investor, with a portfolio of office and industrial developments”.
Campaigners are demanding that the UKBA immediately terminates the G4S contract and extends the existing contracts with local councils.
Note: This article was amended on 18 December 2012: We initially described Cascade as a Kitewood subsidiary; Kitewood's Cascade is not involved here.