Asylum seekers in Sheffield criticise accommodation

Accommodation has been criticised in Sheffield
Accommodation has been criticised in Sheffield
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Asylum-seekers are being placed in rat-infested and dirty accommodation after arriving in the UK, a Commons report claims.

MPs delivered a blistering critique of the system for housing those who apply for refuge in Britain, describing some of the conditions in some properties as a 'disgrace'.

The Home Affairs committee heard evidence of families living amid infestations of mice, rats and bedbugs.

One woman in Sheffield, quoted in the report, said her flat was over-run with rats.

"The rats run up the stairs, and out of the store cupboard into the living room. I am frightened for the children," she said.

Another woman who lived in Sheffield with her four children while her claim for asylum was dealt with said water poured in through the front and back door of the property when it rained and the cooker did not work.

For three months she had to rely on fellow asylum seekers cooking food for her family, she told the report authors.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, the committee's chairwoman, said: "The state of accommodation for some asylum seekers and refugees in this country is a disgrace.

"We have come across too many examples of vulnerable people in unsafe accommodation, for example children living with infestations of mice, rats or bed bugs, lack of healthcare for pregnant women, or inadequate support for victims of rape and torture."

The reports found that the dispersal scheme used to place asylum seekers around the country is not working.

It found applicants are concentrated in a small number of some of the most deprived areas - placing pressure on local schools and healthcare services.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We work closely with our contractors to ensure they provide accommodation that is safe, habitable, fit for purpose and adequately equipped and we conduct regular inspections to check that this is the case.

"We have also made significant improvements to the operation of the contracts including increasing the number of dispersal areas by more than a third."

John Whitwam, head of immigration and borders for G4S, one of the firms with a contract to provide accommodation for asylum seekers, said the report sets out the 'challenge' of housing double the number of asylum seekers than were forecast.

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