Home Office Refuses To Say How Much Was Spent On Failed Asylum Centre Project
The Home Office have been urged to release details of the payments (Alamy)
The Home Office is under pressure to disclose details of payments to private outsourcing firm, Serco, for their work on a proposed asylum accommodation centre Linton-on-Ouse which was scrapped amid local opposition.
Earlier this year the outsourcing giant was granted a contract to convert a former military base in Yorkshire into an accommodation centre for up to 1,500 asylum seekers.
Serco had secured a £32.8m contract in May to run the RAF Linton-on-Ouse site as asylum seeker accommodation before the Ministry of Defence withdrew the offer to use the former military base following a backlash from local residents.
Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrats' Home Affairs spokesperson, told PoliticsHome the government had a "responsibility" to reveal their spending after repeatedly refusing to provide details of the deal.
"When money is in short supply, the responsibility of the government is to ensure that it is spent wisely and to be accountable for what they spent. We need to be told how much has been spent here and what we have got for it," he said.
Carmichael is now expected to raise the issue in Parliament in an attempt to force Home Secretary Suella Braverman to reveal details of the payments.
Serco advertised for staff at the North Yorkshire site during summer, with job descriptions telling applicants the role would not be "for the faint hearted".
Plans for the proposed 1,500 capacity site were ditched in August after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace withdrew the offer to use the mothballed government ground for the project after local residents and MPs expressed their opposition to the project.
Details of the contract published by the government show Serco was awarded the two-year deal on 11 May, but PoliticsHome understands the contract has now been formally cancelled after ministers confirmed they had made the decision "not to progress current proposals".
The Home Office has repeatedly refused to confirm how much the outsourcing giant has already been paid for their work or whether further penalty payments were owed to the company following the decision to scrap the project.
Carmichael added: "A story like this coming on top of the news that only 4 per cent of asylum applications in 2021 have been processed confirms my view that the Home Office is a failing department.
"It needs a Home Secretary of better quality than Suella Braverman. Every day Sunak's decision to reappoint her looks worse and worse."
It comes after a judicial review was launched into the conditions at the Manston processing centre in Kent, where overcrowded conditions have resulted in outbreaks of disease, and reports that asylum seekers were being detained for longer than the expected 24-hour period.
The decision to cancel the Linton-on-Ouse project piles further pressure on the department which is struggling to find suitable accommodation for asylum seekers, with almost £6m currently being spent each day on hotels for migrants.
A government spokesperson said: "The government remains committed to overhauling the broken asylum system to stop UK taxpayers spending £5.6m every day accommodating asylum seekers in hotels.
"The asylum system costs the UK more than £2bn every year which is completely unsustainable for the public's finances."
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