A report by David Bolt, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, has been published and covers the provision of asylum accommodation.
The Home Office has accepted the recommendations made by the Inspector and is today publishing an action plan to address the areas he has highlighted.
The action plan is available here and a summary is also available, below the Home Office's statement.
A Home Office spokesperson said:
Whilst this report covers a small sample of the 12,000 properties for asylum seekers, the Government is committed to improving the service in the areas the Inspector has highlighted.
Our comprehensive action plan will support customers in raising issues with their accommodation and ensure vulnerable people receive a more tailored service.
In addition, we have restructured our routine inspections so that our approach to managing the contracts and accommodation standards is more consistent nationally.
Asylum Accommodation Action Plan
Customer expectations and experience
- We are reviewing induction materials to ensure that customers are, from the very start of the process, given very clear expectations of the service they should expect and who they should contact if they have concerns.
- We are further reviewing our complaints and incident reporting procedures in line with that expectation with all revised processes and documents should be in place by January 2019.
Safeguarding vulnerable customers
- We have set up a regular Safeguarding Working Group with senior staff from each of our accommodation providers to review all areas of our provision to customers in vulnerable groups. This group will help share best practice and ensure consistency across the country.
- We are developing a new caseworking platform which will effectively capture and support monitoring of vulnerable groups.
Property standards and contract compliance
- We have restructured the accommodation inspection teams and are developing a more consistent approach to enforcing standards in asylum accommodation.
- We have been working with our providers to refresh the estate, taking the most tired properties out of service and replacing them with newer ones.
- We have improved the performance management standards in the new contracts, for example the Performance Management Regime has been re-modelled to further incentivise performance.
Accommodation System management
- We are implementing more robust monitoring and processes to ensure that customers spend no longer than necessary in Initial Accommodation before moving to regular dispersal accommodation
- We are reviewing procedures and data to ensure that all customer placements are appropriate – including that vulnerable customers’ specific needs are always met. All of this work will be complete by March 2019
- We are also implementing more robust risk and issue management processes around the system, and upgrading the consistency of the data model across UKVI and our providers to enable fully effective monitoring of the service.
Engagement and Dispersal
- There are now over 120 active local authorities participating in asylum dispersal and we are continuing to proactively engage with all areas that to date have not participated in asylum dispersal.
- We will work with the Local Government Association (LGA) and Local Authorities to define next steps for widening asylum dispersal.