The Government has begun the search for a private contractor to take on the next £600m phase of its beleaguered asylum seeker housing contract, after previous providers G4S, Serco and Clearsprings were hit by spiralling costs.
A tender document published quietly by the Home Office at the end of last month outlined the initial scope of the contract, which will begin on Sept 1 2019 and will run for five years.
Under the terms, the winning party will provide accommodation for asylum seekers and arrange transport for them during their application process.
The document states that the company undertaking the work must “protect the vulnerable, keep service users safe, orientate them to live in their communities and prepare them to act on the outcome of their asylum claim”.
The tender signals the beginning of a new phase in the Government’s housing of asylum seekers, which has up until now been handled by G4S and Serco, along with Clearsprings, who won a contract known as “Compass” in 2013.
The contract has proven extremely problematic, particularly for G4S and Serco. The number of asylum seekers who needed to be housed jumped dramatically from 25,200 people when the contract began, to 39,389 at the end of 2016.
This increased the cost of running the contract but the providers did not receive any more government money because the original terms were agreed at a fixed price.
The contract holders were dealt a further blow in December when the Government decided to exercise a two-year extension clause for the original four-year contract.
Last year, Ashley Almanza, the boss of G4S, said the firm should never have entered into the contract, which is expected to cost it almost £90m over six years. It is not yet known whether G4S and Serco will rebid for the contract.