G4S is the biggest private UK company, worth over £600 million for its various contracts. Responsible for security services, managing detention centres, prisons, and 675 court and police station holding cells, G4S have also just been granted the £100 million contract for providing 10,000 security guards for the upcoming olympics.
Whilst G4S still seem to be government favourites, their record is far from spotless. The firm lost their previous 'deportation' contract last September after receiving 773 complaints of abuse – both verbal and physical. The final straw came with the death of Jimmy Mubenga in October 2010, an Angolan asylum seeker who died as a result of his forced deportation by G4S guards. Two of the guards are on bail facing criminal charges, whilst G4S is still waiting to hear whether they are to face corporate manslaughter charges.
From as early as March 1st, asylum seekers in Yorkshire and Humberside are being expected to accept this multi-national, money-hungry, security company as their landlords.
This £135 million contract for asylum seekers' social housing is set to be shared across different security companies for different regions in the UK. G4S, Serco and Reliance Security are set to be the main benefactors of this mass privatisation; not their prospective tenants. G4S' chief executive, Nick Buckles, gets an annual salary and shares worth £2.4 million, plus a possible annual bonus of £1.2 million. His pension pot alone is at present worth £7 million.
Fundamentally, the government's proposed privatisation of social housing places the safety, dignity and wellbeing of asylum seekers in danger. As the coalition commits itself to deficit reduction and austerity, its zeal for outsourcing to huge, profit-making, private companies must be kept in check. It has already been proven that the initial contracting of private companies to provide asylum seekers' social housing produced a “housing system which in many instances was poorly regulated, substandard and unsafe” (IRR). To grant a new, multi-million pound contract which has already been criticised to a company that has a practically non-existent record of providing dignified and safe services is more than ludicrous; it is lethal.
Decisions made by government officials and corporate executives, so far removed from the precarious lives of the people on whom the changes would impact, are set to further endanger those already at risk. This is something we must all resist.