THE physical and mental health of asylum seekers in Scotland is being put at risk due to substandard housing conditions, a charity has said.

The Scottish Refugee Council said it had found cases in which repair requests or complaints were ignored or individuals had been put up in infested homes. In another instance one asylum seeker had returned home to find his locks changed and belongings confiscated.

A new report is to be published by the organisation this week, in which it is also claimed that a young mother with a toddler son was subjected to frequent racist abuse and repeatedly forced to share accommodation with strangers.

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Responsibility for housing asylum seekers lies with the UK Government, which handed a contract to outsourcing giant Serco to provide the service in 2012. Serco sub-contracted the work to private letting company Orchard and Shipman. Scottish Refugee Council acting chief executive Gary Christie said: "The breadth and severity of the examples detailed in our research are shocking. People seeking asylum are often destitute and not allowed to work to support themselves and are forced to rely on the UK Government to put a roof over their head.

"As it has been two and a half years since the change in provider, the problems that we have found are clearly not just transitional."