The UK Government’s approach to asylum seekers has “failed” and created “inhumane” living conditions for those fleeing to the UK, a former refugee turned politician has said.  

Glasgow councillor Roza Salih, Scotland’s first asylum seeker elected to public office, said the practice of housing people fleeing to the UK in temporary accommodation such as hotels and barges had fuelled the far-right.

And she believes the only beneficiaries of the current system are private organisations, whose executives receive “enormous salaries”  for providing substandard accommodation thanks to contracts handed out by the Tories "costing the taxpayers millions of pounds".

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Writing in The Herald, Ms Salih said that the UK Government had exacerbated the housing crisis by presiding over a huge backlog in cases which had left local authorities ill-equipped to respond. 

The Herald: Roza Salih Roza Salih (Image: NQ)

She called for reform of the system, saying that the UK Government needed to commit to housing asylum seekers in communities and ending the practice of using temporary accommodation.  

Marking the first anniversary of far-right protests against refugees being housed in an Erskine hotel, Ms Salih said: “The Government's pursuit of large-scale asylum accommodation centres and the use of barges and ex-military bases perpetuate inhumane living conditions.  

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“Institutional accommodation strips individuals of their personal identity and ability to look after themselves, leading to adverse mental and physical health outcomes for already vulnerable people. 

“The Government's dependence on private companies for asylum accommodation is flawed, lacking public accountability to local authorities, who should receive public funds instead.  

“The private organisations used by the Home Office make huge profits from these contracts while their chief executives are paid enormous salaries. It’s a disgrace that these private companies are allowed to get away without any accountability to the public.” 

She added: “The UK Government needs to think again. Its approach has failed, and reform is required. We need a fair vision, fostering an efficient asylum system that allows people who seek sanctuary to rebuild their lives safely as part of our communities.”