The asylum industry: low profit margins mean high human costs
In 2012, Serco, G4S and Tascor were awarded contracts to supply housing for asylum-seekers across six regions worth up to £1.1 billion in revenue. The main objective of the outsourcing was ‘to reduce the cost of asylum support’, saving the Home Office £140 million. In 2013, Serco Chief Executive claimed that it made just 21p per asylum seeker accommodated per day, but had chosen to enter the space because for Serco ‘accommodation management [is] an important development area’. Such low financial margins, however, come with human costs. Within months of these companies taking on the accommodation contracts, charities and local government associations began raising concerns about the poor quality of housing offered – providing evidence that tenants were suffering from pest infestations, a lack of heating and hot water, windows and doors that could not be locked, and a failure to provide basic amenities like cookers or sinks.