Sheffield was the UK’s first City of Sanctuary and today I spoke in a debate on an issue I know is important to many of those who come here seeking refuge – the quality of their housing.  

While there are long running problems with poor quality housing, in the last two years we’ve seen a worrying increase in the number of asylum seekers housed in ‘emergency’ accommodation long term. In December 2020, around one in every five people accommodated by the Home Office was living in such temporary accommodation—an almost fourfold increase in just one year. 

After writing to the Home Secretary urging her to stop the use of military barracks as asylum accommodation earlier this year, I raised my concerns again in today’s debate, along with her new proposals for ‘reception centres’ – a move towards ‘detention on arrival’. 

I told Parliament that: 

“We know that that is the experience of immigration removal centres, which were set up to fulfil a short-term function but have ended up detaining people sometimes for months, even for years—indefinite detention, described by those detained as worse than prison and rejected by the House in its support for our 2015 cross-party inquiry into immigration detention.” 

You can read my full speech here.   

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