The government is currently procuring a new service to replace both the accommodation and the support services provided for asylum seekers. The asylum process can take many months to complete; many of the people claiming asylum have no money and because they do not have the right to work until they are granted refugee status and leave to remain, many are effectively destitute. The accommodation and advice service offered is primarily targeted at meeting the needs of this group of people. At any given time there are roughly 45,000 people whose claims are bring assessed within the system. The accommodation service offers “initial accommodation” and “dispersed accommodation”. Initial accommodation is hostel type accommodation for people when they first make their claim for asylum, whereas dispersed accommodation is self-contained property (often shared houses) that people move to, once they have got through the first part of the claim process. This new service is currently been tendered in seven regional lots to cover the whole of the UK.
The support service consists of an Advice and Guidance service, which helps people make their asylum claim, provides them with information about the range of services offered and helps them access health provision and other community services that they are entitled to engage with. For families, the advice and guidance service will help ensure that children get access to schooling and other children’s services as required. The service also offers a single point of contact for asylum seekers to log issues that they face, and has a role in ensuring that these issues are reported and resolved as appropriate, including raising maintenance problems or other issues with the accommodation provider. The final aspect of the advice and guidance service is to help with arrangements once a decision on the asylum claim has been made. For those who are given leave to remain, this will include helping them find accommodation and to register for welfare benefits and or find work. For those not granted leave to remain this will include helping make arrangements for repatriation. This service is currently being tendered as a single national lot. 3SC is expecting to have a role in the delivery of Advice and Guidance service, and aims to seek expressions of interest from delivery organisations in the near future.