Roddick’s comments came after Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council, warned of an impending humanitarian crisis. Glasgow expects 1,400 refugees to become homeless in the coming months, and has appealed to the government for help.
Speaking at a meeting of Glasgow City Council, Aitken said the Home Office “are trying to convince voters they are delivering on their ugly rhetoric on asylum but all they are doing is leaving panic and destitution in their wake”.
In Edinburgh, where the council has recently declared a housing emergency, The Big Issue understands the situation is being monitored, but no increase in rough sleeping has been seen yet.
Changes made by the Home Office in August mean asylum seekers are, in practice, often being given just seven days to find somewhere to live before they are evicted.
Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter
While living in Home Office accommodation and waiting for a decision on their claim, asylum seekers are not able to work.
After a decision has been made, newly-recognised refugees were previously afforded 28 days to find somewhere to live, beginning when they received paperwork allowing them to work and secure alternative accommodation
However, frontline charities are warning that the Home Office is applying its policy more strictly. The 28 days now starts when refugees are told their claim has been granted, with a wait for paperwork meaning they often just have seven days remaining before they are evicted.
Combined with efforts to clear the tens of thousands of cases in the asylum backlog by Christmas, it has created a growing crisis pushing refugees onto the streets.
Roddick, who has herself experienced homelessness, said the Scottish government was concerned about the scale of the crisis.
“I think it’s a symptom of a very poorly designed immigration policy overall, or perhaps one that’s designed with different goals in mind to what ours would be.
“But there are plenty of solutions, we have presented a number of them to the UK government, but my hope is that at some point it will listen, or Scotland will become independent and we get to design a better one ourselves.”
The Scottish government’s is the latest political reaction to the crisis and Big Issue’s reporting.
Labour’s shadow minister for homelessness, Mike Amesbury, said the crisis reflected a Home Office “so chaotic and incompetent that it is utterly failing to fulfil this most basic function of government”.
In response to The Big Issue’s investigation, a Home Office spokesperson said: “The pressure on the asylum system has continued to grow, which is why we have taken immediate action to speed up processing times and cut costs for taxpayers.
“To minimise the risk of homelessness, we encourage individuals to make their onward plans as soon as possible after receiving their decision, whether that is leaving the UK following a refusal, or taking steps to integrate in the UK following a grant.
“We offer ample support once claims have been granted through Migrant Help, access to the labour market and advice on applying for universal credit.”