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Asylum accommodation and support

Refugees who fear persecution in their home countries may apply to the UK for asylum. In 2018 there were 29,380 asylum applications. While asylum seekers wait for their claim to be considered, the Home Office is responsible for providing accommodation and support to those who would otherwise be destitute. It does this by contracting out services to external providers. Between 2012 and 2019, accommodation services were managed through six regional contracts known as COMPASS, which we reviewed in an investigation published in 2014.

The Home Office has recently replaced the COMPASS contracts with seven regional Asylum Accommodation and Support Contract (AASC) contracts, which began operating in September 2019. A new national Advice, Issue Reporting and Eligibility (AIRE) contract began at the same time. The contracts are worth an estimated £4.8 billion over the next ten years.

Our review will assess how the Home Office designed and procured the new contracts; how it is managing the new providers and contracts, and whether the new services are meeting the needs of asylum seekers.

If you would like to provide evidence for our study, please email the study team on enquiries@nao.org.uk,  putting the study title (‘Asylum accommodation and support’) in the subject line. The team will consider the evidence you provide; however, please note that due to the volume of information we receive we may not be able to respond to you directly.