G4S, Serco and Reliance shortlisted to manage housing for asylum seekers

On 12 December 2012, the UK Border Agency announced the ‘preferred bidders’ to provide accommodation and transport for people seeking sanctuary in the UK.
Three providers have been chosen for the six regions, with the public and voluntary sector being replaced by private providers:



Working with migrants from outside the EU

This page contains information about the commercial and operational managers procuring asylum support services (COMPASS) project.

The overall aim of the COMPASS project is to provide ongoing contract provision for asylum support services, in accordance with government policy, beyond the current arrangements which are due to expire during 2012. The following services are currently within the scope of COMPASS:

  • initial and dispersed accomodation and associated services for asylum applicants; and
  • transport for asylum applicants.

The COMPASS project’s aims are to:

  • deliver better value for money by ensuring that the project establishes guidelines and applies lessons learned to ensure delivery of greater operational efficiency, and enables lower risk facilitated by robust management;
  • build in sufficient flexibility to vary services in line with changing demand in terms of volume, service user type and location;
  • ensure overall business continuity so that support to entitled service users is maintained;
  • continue to foster cohesion in the communities to which we disperse; and
  • fulfil the UK Border Agency’s legal obligations and meets its strategic objectives.

The COMPASS project will look to procure the in-scope services and, where possible, minimise the disruption to service users, limiting the number of service user relocations and ensuring the smooth transfer of all services. Transition will also include early engagement with the UK Border Agency’s regional asylum teams to ensure that they fully understand the operational implications of the COMPASS contracts.

The timescales for the project are as follows:

Project launched July 2009
Prior information notice (PIN) issued August 2009
Competition(s) launched (OJEU published) April 2011
Invitation to tender (RFP) July – August 2011
Tender evaluation September – October 2011
Preferred bidders identified December 2011 – January 2012
Due diligence December 2011
Contract award February 2012

As part of the evaluation approach for the request for proposal (RFP), COMPASS utilised an e-Auction. The e-auction process enabled the UK Border Agency to drive out the most economically advantageous bid based on quality and cost.

Following the e-Auction, a shortlist of preferred bidders has now been identified:

Region Preferred Bidder
London and South Reliance Secure Task Management Ltd
Wales Reliance Secure Task Management Ltd
Midlands and East of England G4S Regional Management (UK&I) Ltd
North East Yorkshire and Humber G4S Regional Management (UK&I) Ltd
North West Serco Civil Government
Scotland and Northern Ireland Serco Civil Government

Following the approval by our internal Governance channels, formal notification was issued to successful and unsuccessful bidders, along with communications to corporate partners.

The project will now go through a period of due diligence to endorse the decisions taken prior to formal contract award in February 2012.

The project is continuing to work with the regions and corporate partners to support effective planning and management of the transition of service users from current contracts to COMPASS contracts to ensure minimal disruption.

What is the regional aggregated model?

The COMPASS project has investigated the feasibility of several commercial models to deliver this service and is now progressing the development of the ‘regional aggregated model’ to procure the in-scope services.

Our definition of the regional aggregated model is: ‘A supplier or group of suppliers (in the case of a joint venture or consortia) responsible for delivery of all services (transport, accommodation and advisory) either directly or indirectly through sub-contracting arrangements within an allotted region.’

In effect, each UK Border Agency operational region will have 1 prime contractor, which can be either a public or a private organisation. This contractor will be responsible for the delivery of accommodation and transport services, and can be supported through sub-contracting agreements. The exception to this is in the Wales and the South West region, which has been split for the purposes of this procurement. There will be 1 contract covering Wales, and the South West’s requirements will be combined with those of the London and the South East region to create a South of England region for contract purposes.


We will update this page routinely with the latest details on the procurement process. If you have any queries about the COMPASS project in the meantime, please emailCompass@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk.

Serco and G4S already have the contracts for transportation and detention – what could this lead to? More coordination within the system? ‘Stealth’ changes to policy by the back door as practice between the enforcement and support areas of asylum provision are streamlined?

Local authorities can and should be doing more to use their powers and responsibilities for housing and social care within their boundaries to scrutinise and regulate the worst excesses of substandard housing and treatment of asylum seekers.

In Scotland, the Glasgow contract will be run by Serco, the international government and security services company.

Glasgow City of Sanctuary group hopes that Serco will be able to avoid some of the housing problems experienced in the past in the city. The group has put out a call for the new landlord to sign up to a code of practice – the .
In a press release, the group said:
“Glasgow can be proud of our history as a city of welcome for people seeking sanctuary. Asylum housing provision, however, has been very hit and miss and some of it, particularly in the private sector, has been downright awful. What we are offering here is a chance for the new landlord to match the goodwill of Glasgow people and the standards of Scottish housing providers.”
“We aren’t asking for special treatment for people seeking sanctuary, just a housing service of the same standard as that for other people who find themselves homeless.”
In Glasgow and across the UK there have been examples of shockingly sub-standard housing being used in Border Agency contracts. Problems have often been highlighted by community groups and voluntary organisations, but this year those groups in Glasgow have had their Council funding cut by almost 50%, leading to redundancies and cut-back services.
Glasgow City of Sanctuary group believes that the Scottish Standards can be used as the basis for a decent housing service, and will help community groups to monitor it.
Pinar Aksu is a refugee, Community Development degree student, and a member of the Glasgow City of Sanctuary group. Pinar said:
“Poor quality housing is always one of the big issues at the women’s refugee group I work with. If Serco sign up to this, we’ll be able to make sure that everyone knows the standard to expect, we can monitor the service and help people to report problems.”
To contact Glasgow City of Sanctuary about the housing contract, call Michael on 07745009834 or emailglasgow@cityofsanctuary.org
There are currently around 1500 asylum seeking households in Glasgow, housed mostly by YPeople under contract to the UK Border Agency for around £10million per year.
Serco is currently contracted by the UK Border Agency to operate two Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) in the UK; Colnbrook IRC and Yarl’s Wood IRC. Serco is also an approved provider for overseas court escorting tasks.
Asylum seekers have been housed in Glasgow for 11 years, first by the council, then by two landlords – one private sector (the Angel Group) and one voluntary sector (YPeople, formerly YMCA Glasgow).
In November 2010, the Chartered Institute of Housing Scotland and Shelter Scotland published Guidance on Standards for Temporary Accommodation. The guidance is a good practice tool for temporary accommodation providers, and the standards are designed to be both realistic and achievable, and go beyond the physical standard of the accommodation to also cover service, management and location standards. 
The current contractual obligations for housing providers, 2005-2011, are laid out in the Statement of Requirements, an annexe to the UKBA contract. The 2005-2011 Statement of Requirements can be downloaded here.
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