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

A newly released report by the National Audit Office from last year showed there were issues with providing services which had adverse effects on asylum seekers' wellbeing.

Mears, who has the contract for looking after asylum seekers in Scotland, took thousands of asylum seekers out of their homes in Glasgow and put them into hotels, including Park Inn on West George Street, where Badreddin Abedlla Adam stabbed six people, including a police officer, hotel staff and other asylum seekers before being shot dead by police.

The 10-year contract for Scotland is worth £431 and is to look after 4,500 asylum seekers.

READ MORE: Asylum seekers say Home Office has failed in duty of care as they gather in Glasgow

Before the lockdown concerns were voiced over the risks of housing people in hotels and serviced apartments for extended periods of time. While the contract allows for hotels and serviced apartments to be used to meet excess demand they are not intended to be a long-term solution.

The report raised issues with asylum seekers having no money when in hotels, limited access to support services, health services and education.

The report 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.”

It said 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.

READ MORE: Inquiry urged into Glasgow asylum seekers’ ‘accommodation crisis’ after attack

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

The report said 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.”