Some asylum seekers have been banned from accommodation in north-east England because of “social cohesion issues” and far-right activity, a move lawyers have described as “discriminatory”, the Guardian has learned. Details of the ban emerged in a note from the Home Office to an asylum seekers solicitor, in which the department said that it had an agreement with local authorities in that region not to house any “foreign nationals with known criminality”. However, sources close to Home Office contractors providing asylum accommodation in the region said that some councils refused their requests to house any asylum seekers because of local far-right activity.
The North East Migration Partnership, an organisation which includes local authorities, confirmed there were concerns around social cohesion when sending asylum seekers to the region. A spokeswoman for NEMP said: “In Late 2017, the NEMP communicated to the Home Office the collective concerns of individual local authorities regarding pressures associated with asylum dispersal in their areas. There have been a number of different concerns raised by local authorities in the north-east, some of which relate to social cohesion matters highlighted by local policing teams. It would not be appropriate to comment on specific issues or areas.” Earlier this year Julie Elliott, the Labour MP for Sunderland Central, also wrote to the home secretary to ask the Home Office to stop sending asylum seekers to the north-east due to “tensions” in the area. Elliott referred to tensions linked to the commission of “very serious criminal offences” as justification for her request for a temporary suspension.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian,