ASYLUM seekers have changed Glasgow for the better according to the council leader, who told MPs she wants more control in delivering services.

Susan Aitken said the council was blocked from bidding for the accommodation contract but still picks up the bill for support services.

Ms Aitken gave evidence to the Home Affairs committee at Westminster and councils need financial support for asylum seekers.

She said there are more asylum seekers in Glasgow than any single local authority.

Ms Aitken said: “We are very proud to have been a dispersal city. It’s become part of Glasgow’s culture and sense of ourselves. It is noticeable the inclusion of asylum seekers has had.

“It has changed Glasgow for the better. We are more culturally diverse and we very much want to continue in that vein.”

Ms Aitken however said that the Home Office has not been helpful.

She raised the issue of earlier this year when Serco, the private firm responsible for housing asylum seekers, threatened to evict around 300 from their properties.

She said they were “going to dump them on the streets of Glasgow”.

The council leader said the Home Office needs to understand that councils pick up the bill for asylum seekers in various ways.

She said: “For some it will impact on education or housing. For us it is our homelessness service.

“Around 10% of our homeless register is asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds and who are made destitute.

“We use our resources to respond to that. When people are given leave to remain they are out of their Serco flat and they come on to our homeless register. The more there are the more difficult it is. We step into the breach.”

Ms Aitken said there are around 4000 heading towards 5000 asylum seekers in Glasgow. She also said there are 372 unaccompanied child refugees in the city but only 230 get Home Office funding, leaving the council to pick up the cost.

Ms Aitken told the MPs that the eviction threat episode allowed better communication and progress to be made with the Home Office.

However she said it took a strong response from the council and others to get that progress.

She said: “We went Tonto at them and said you’re kicking 300 people on the streets.”

She added: “Progress only came about because of that.”