Home Office landlord Mears leaves asylum seekers without electricity or hot water for days
14 January 2022
Tonight, 21 year old Ahmed* contacted our emergency line in desperation, to say he has been out of electricity and hot water for several days after Mears Group failed to top up his electricity meter.
Home Office landlord Mears Group accommodated Ahmed in a bare flat about a month ago.
His electricity ran out three days ago. He called Migrant Help who got back to him tonight to day it will be FIVE days before it is sorted out.
Ahmed* asked his neighbours - who are also seeking asylum - to charge his phone for him so that he could use the torch on his phone for light and receive essential phone messages.
In desperation, he contacted Positive Action in Housing, saying:
“I am in the dark right now and very scared”.
This is life for asylum seekers housed by the Home Office accommodation contractor.
Mears is responsible for heating flats given to asylum seekers as part of a £1BIllion deal with the Home Office.
Other asylum seekers have also complained that they have no electricity for several days.
We understand the accommodation contractor has recently been fitting prepayment meters to the flats, and electricity meters are running out of credit.
One of our volunteers from our Humans of Glasgow Network visited Ahmed* and topped up the electricity meter, and Ahmed has hot water and electricity for now. He had nothing to offer as thanks, and insisted on offering advertising executive Helen a cup of water. Helen said:
"It's shameful that Mears has left this young person without electricity or light. Knowing he's already been without electricity and therefore no heating, light, cooking facilities or hot water for several days, they advised as its Friday they can't help but it would take 5 days to resolve anyway.
"With my friend's help we worked out that Mears had installed a prepayment meter into the flat which they are responsible for topping up, without explaining anything to the young asylum seeker.
"Mears are a multimillion pound company paid millions to house and support desperate, scared and threatened fellow humans. Is this good enough? I don't think so.
"The problem may be resolved in the short-term because a donation paid for electricity to be topped up, but what happens when that runs out? Its not acceptable. The 'lights' are back on for now and Ahmed offered me a cup of water to show his appreciation."
There are around 3,500 impoverished asylum seekers in Glasgow, living under the oppressive Home Office accommodation contract. Many people are too frightened to speak up for fear of jeopardising their asylum application.
Since 2020, we have witnessed first hand the humanitarian crisis inflicted on asylum seekers by the behaviour of Home Office accommodation contractors.
It’s members of the public who have come forward to donate money and essentials to help people with money for phone data, bus fares, food or clothing.
Now it looks like accommodation contractors are fitting prepayment meters in an attempt to cut their electricity costs. Leaving asylum seekers without electricity for days at a time is how they appear to be cutting those costs.
It will be NGOs and civic society that will be expected to foot the bill for the accommodation contractors’ clear intent to profit from peoples misery by cutting costs.
Asylum seekers should not have to rely on accommodation contractors linked to the Home Office for their housing. They should be able to seek work and rent privately or through Housing Associations or the Council. This avoids a two tier system that discriminates against them.
Expect to see more of this new kind of inhumanity courtesy of the Home Office in future.