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Paper Critically Examines the Politics of Asylum Accommodation in the UK

A new article offers a first examination of recent changes in the nature of asylum accommodation in the UK, arguing that in the model existing today, economic calculations and narratives of ‘worthiness’, ‘welfare’, and ‘prioritization’ intersect to make asylum-seeking a ‘market’ in which neoliberal norms of market competition, economic efficiency, and dispersed responsibility are central.

Monday, April 4, 2016 10:47 am EDT
"My research illustrates that the contracting out of asylum accommodation has had significant impacts on local authorities. The expertise developed within local authorities for working with asylum seekers and refugees has often been lost"

A new article offers a first examination of recent changes in the nature of asylum accommodation in the UK, arguing that in the model existing today, economic calculations and narratives of ‘worthiness’, ‘welfare’, and ‘prioritization’ intersect to make asylum-seeking a ‘market’ in which neoliberal norms of market competition, economic efficiency, and dispersed responsibility are central.

In this context, the framing of asylum seekers as a ‘burden’ emerges, along with an economic rationale that values asylum accommodation for the profit it may bring, rather than the questions of social justice it raises.

“My research illustrates that the contracting out of asylum accommodation has had significant impacts on local authorities. The expertise developed within local authorities for working with asylum seekers and refugees has often been lost,” said Dr. Jonathan Darling, author of the paper, which is published in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. “With local authorities facing unprecedented financial pressure, asylum support services have rapidly diminished, leaving only charitable provision in some parts of the UK. This reflects wider fears that the wellbeing of all involved in dispersal—asylum seekers and the communities they are dispersed to—are being ignored in favor of providing cheap housing and minimal services.”

Additional Information

Darling, J. (2016), Privatising asylum: neoliberalisation, depoliticisation and the governance of forced migration. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. doi: 10.1111/tran.12118

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