Warnings over placing asylum seekers in hotels and serviced apartments for long periods of time were issued long before lockdown and Mears putting hundreds in hotels in Glasgow.

A newly published report by the National Audit Office carried out last year showed there were problems with providing services and it had an adverse affect on people's wellbeing.

The 10-year contract for Scotland is worth £431m and currently is to look after more than 4500 asylum seekers.

Mears took hundreds out of homes in the city and put them into hotels, including the Park Inn in West George Street, where Badreddin Abedlla Adam stabbed six people, including other asylum seekers, a police officer and hotel staff before he was shot and killed by police.

Long before the lock down concerns were raised about the risks of housing people in hotels and services apartments for long periods of time.

The report also raised issues with asylum seekers having no money when in hotels.

The contracts allow for hotels and services apartments to be used to meet excess demand for “initial accommodation” but are not intended to be long term solutions.

It said: “Providers have placed large numbers of people in hotels and other ‘contingency’ accommodation such as serviced apartments, due to the increase in demand for initial accommodation.”

It added: “Asylum seekers and voluntary sector organisations told us that long stays in initial accommodation can be harmful to people’s well-being, whether they are in providers’ permanent accommodation or in hotels.”

A list of concerns included: “limited access to support services, health services and education.”

It also stated Migrant Help( the organisation which deals with requests for support) and local health providers have struggled to provide enough services to asylum seekers staying in hotels.

The report also reveals Mears which has the contact to house Asylum seekers in Glasgow was fined £3.1m for failing to move people onto more sealed accommodation quickly enough.

The report showed the group “Failed to meet targets on moving people to dispersed (longer-term) accommodation, property maintenance and responding to complaints.”

Stuart McDonald SNP immigration spokesman said the report showed the Home Office merely tinkered with the previous contract.

He said: “The recent spike in hotel use and the number of people having to stay in initial accommodation for long periods is also hugely concerning.

“Such accommodation limits personal autonomy, access to support and is especially poor for families. Over-reliance on hotels should not have been allowed, and we need urgent action from the Home Office to clamp down on it.”
A Mears Group Spokesman said: "Mears became responsible for Asylum Accommodation and Support in three contract regions in late summer 2019. As the only new provider, taking over from three of the previous Compass contracts, this has been a time of transition as we have worked to make improvements and bring accommodation and support up to the new ASSC contract standards. 

“Mears have procured 1265 new properties and handed back 881 from the Compass contract. We have also carried out improvements to 1,118 properties. The overall number of asylum seekers we are supporting has increased from around 12,000 when we started the contract, to 18,000 now, causing some delays in moving service users from Initial Accommodation due to the difficulties of procuring suitable additional Dispersed Accommodation in the timeframes.   

“As the COVID-19 lockdown begins to ease, we are now able to restart our programme of improvements and new procurement.”