Sheltering on the margins: social housing provision and the impact of restrictionism on asylum seekers and refugees in the UK
Roger Zetter, Martyn Pearl
The impact of increasingly restrictionist policies for asylum seekers and refugees is reviewed from the perspective of social housing provision. This paper examines the instruments used to enact these policy shifts. The consequences are explored in terms of the social exclusion and destitution created by disqualifying most asylum seekers from access to local authority housing, by disentitlement to housing and welfare benefits and by fragmenting service delivery. The pragmatic restructuring of housing provision is then examined. The role of housing associations, who are increasingly significant providers for this client group, is reviewed. Financial and legal constraints to action have resulted in pragmatic responses, a generally poor quality of service provision, inadequate access procedures, lack of co‐ordination and networking, and limited institutional capacity. The paper explores these flaws in the current framework of provision and the ways in which practice can be improved to overcome them. However, it is concluded that the 1999 Asylum and Immigration Act, implementing the government's comprehensive review of asylum policy, is likely to compound poor service delivery and social exclusion, whilst failing to achieve the main objective of restrictionism and deterrence.