COUNCILS should be given the job of housing refugees and asylum seekers as they would do a better job of it than private firms contracted by the UK Government, academics claim.

The Scottish Government’s New Scots group, which encourages the integration and welcoming of refugees into the country, is to be briefed by experts from Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities today.

They say the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Programme has demonstrated the success of councils in planning and managing the arrival of displaced migrants to Scottish communities such as Edinburgh, the Scottish Borders and Rothesay in Argyll and Bute,

They say councils have have more expertise in housing and can plan accommodation for refugees as part of a wider housing strategy.

They contrast this experience with that of asylum seekers rehoused under the UK Government’s dispersal programme which sees Glasgow unable to influence their housing under a contract called Compass, which currently sees it provided by multinational company Serco.

This two-tier system has left asylum seekers under the dispersal programme disadvantaged and at risk from policies such as the attempted eviction of hundreds of failed asylum seekers in August, which provoked protests in Glasgow.

A briefing by Dr Tim Peace, of Glasgow University and Dr Emma Hill, of Edinburgh University says: “As the Compass contract emphasises cost-saving measures, Serco have sought low cost accommodation, resulting in a push towards the periphery of Glasgow and lower quality housing stock.”

Integrated solutions are necessary to meet the needs of asylum seekers and refugees and balance them with the needs of local communities, the document says. “This is not possible under the current arrangements.”

Dr Peace said Scottish Councils should continue to receive resettled refugees when the current programme ends in 2002, but adequate financial arrangements would be needed to ensure such a system was financially viable. Meanwhile he said Serco, or any company taking over the Compass contract next year should work with Glasgow and charities to reduce the number of people facing eviction.