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Refugees Set Adrift: Asylum Profiteers Exposed

Updated: May 23

The UK is ranked as having the fifth largest GDP in the world, with its leaders gleefully boasting of its noble values and international importance. Yet, people who need temporary safety and sanctuary are met at UK shores with intentional contempt and vilification. 

As part of its encroaching hostile environment policies, the UK government is insinuatingly replacing hotels and houses asylum accommodation with far less "homely" alternatives. This is pitched to the public as reducing the spending of taxpayers' money on the asylum system, which in this series has been shown to be a false narrative. 

In reality, it is just a new way for asylum profiteers to keep raking in the profits by victimising the most vulnerable in our society. Countless accounts of the atrocious conditions in asylum hotels expose the asylum system as fundamentally about profit generation.

Discounting the new offshore accommodation, Bibby Stockholm, the UK government subcontracts its asylum accommodation provision to three companies: Mears, Clearsprings, and Serco. These three subcontractors all hold abominable records of mismanaging asylum accommodation by cutting corners to maximise profits. 

Despite having no experience providing asylum accommodation before being subcontracted by the UK Government, the three firms were awarded a joint contract of £4 billion in 2019 to run the UK's asylum seeker accommodation and boast a collective profit of £800 million. Over the last decade, these companies have experienced rapid growth, with considerable profit boosts over the previous two years. 

From 2021 to 2022, Clearsprings boasted a profit boost of over £24,000,000, and Mears increased its profits by over 37%. Serco's half-year results show that its revenue increased by 13%. 

Collectively, the Home Office has paid these three contractors £4 billion over ten years to provide shoddy accommodation to people who have fled war and persecution. On top of this, CTM has now been awarded £1.6 billion by the Home Office to join these three deviant subcontractors in providing asylum accommodation (including Bibby Stockholm). 

Investigations have found the hotels filthy, crowded, and infested with rats and bed bugs. One man who has been moved to five different hotels since 2019 explained that nobody comes to clean the rooms, and oftentimes, there are no toiletries for them to use. Other accounts reveal people being denied essential medical treatment, with one person being told by an in-house nurse that "this country does not have any money to pay for [your] medical treatment."

Another testimony recounts the verbal abuse that asylum seekers endure from hotel staff, including being told, "you're a fucking asylum seeker. Go back to your home country, we don't need you here in the UK."

A policy introduced in 2006 by the erstwhile Prime Minister Tony Blair introduced "paid activities" into immigration removal centres, which permits detention centres to pay detainees £1 an hour to clean the centres rather than pay outsourced cleaning companies. This policy is in effect in the notoriously cruel Clearsprings Napier Barracks and has in part facilitated Clearsprings owner to enjoy an annual income of £25 million. 

In June 2021, the High Courts ruled that the Napier Barracks in Ken failed to meet even the minimum standards required to house people seeking asylum safely. A recent report by Jesuit Refugee Services exposes the reprehensible conditions in which people are forced to live in Napier. The report states that only two bathrooms were shared by at least thirty people; people went weeks without basic necessities, including shoes and coats; no mental health support was provided onsite; and numerous inhabitants developed physical health problems during their time at Napier. They also documented a severe outbreak of bedbugs in June 2022 – but of course, the UK media only makes a frenzy about bedbug outbreaks when they occur across the channel in France

Remember, the UK has the fifth largest GDP in the world, and its leaders gleefully boast of its noble values and international importance. You should now be aware of the irony.

For a person seeking asylum to be granted leave to remain by the UK government, they must show that they understand British culture and values. Purportedly, these "British values" extol mutual respect and tolerance. Therefore, to get refugee status, a person must endure hostility and xenophobia in Britain whilst being told that "you're a fucking asylum seeker. Go back to your home country;" all the while learning that Britain is apparently a virtuous, respectful, and tolerant nation.    

Image: Irish Defence Forces

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