Hundreds of demonstrators attended a ‘locking-in’ of Glasgow City Council demanding swift action to help vulnerable asylum seekers facing eviction.

The protest, organised by tenants’ union Living Rent, brought together campaigners and politicians demanding action to help house those who could be left destitute.

Since June, Home Office contractor Serco have been threatening as many as 300 refugees across the city with eviction, with at least three asylum seekers already removed from their homes.

READ MORE: MP moves to protect Glasgow's asylum seekers at risk of eviction

On Tuesday, a letter was delivered by Living Rent activists, along with Green councillor Kim Long, asking for emergency arrangements for council accommodation.

The union’s Jennifer Baird said: “Glasgow City Council needs to take much more responsibility and find a genuine solution to prevent what they themselves have called a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

“If they don’t, it is certain that we’ll see these evictions happening again in the not so distant future.”

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The council has claimed it is unable to provide emergency accommodation without change to legislation. However, COSLA guidance published in February says local authorities have a duty to safeguard vulnerable people to avoid destitution.

Council leader Susan Aitken said: “If we had the powers to provide all of those facing eviction by the Home Office with accommodation we would do so.

“We have and will continue to provide support to asylum seekers using the limited powers available to us and will always push this law to its limits. We have spent millions of pounds over the years providing this support.

“Where we do use funds to provide accommodation and support for asylum seekers with no recourse to public funds we do so using our ‘power of welfare’ powers.

“But we cannot provide or indeed commission accommodation and support for those impacted because the No Recourse to Public Funds legislation implemented and maintained by successive UK Governments explicitly prevents local authorities, and others, from doing so.

READ MORE: Sherrif Court grants 50 interdicts blocking Serco asylum seeker evictions

“We would be deemed by the Home Office to be in breach of the law by assisting those who they have deemed to be failed asylum seekers whose needs do not go beyond destitution. In particular, UK legislation prevents us from using public funds to support people who have been refused right to remain and exhausted the appeals process and their need for assistance has arisen solely due to destitution.

“I would be instructing council employees to break the law. Politicians would not face potential prosecution. This dreadful legislation, explicitly designed to tie our hands, means social work staff would.

“It would be entirely unacceptable for me or any other Glasgow politician to demand that our frontline staff put themselves in such an impossible position, particularly when they are already doing everything they already can to support the most vulnerable.

“It is this legislation and Home Office failure to provide a humanitarian response to those people who are refused asylum which should be the target of this outrage.

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“The council continues to lobby Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and their colleagues in the UK Government to give us the legal power to make the difference to tackle this crisis which is not of our own making.”

Living Rent has called for the council to defy these legal restrictions and provide emergency housing, offering support if it does so.

Politicians have also asked whether the council could be doing more.

Cllr Long said: "It's a confusing stance that they have. We already do support people and there is not a blanket ban on using money to support people with no recourse to public funds.

READ MORE: Serco quizzed on Glasgow asylum seeker eviction methods

"We need to think about now - we have 300 people, potentially more, who need a home, somewhere to stay that is safe, and have some basic dignity while doing it."

Parliamentarians from the SNP, Labour and the Greens were also at the rally showing support, with MP Paul Sweeney claimed there are a number at-risk asylum seekers already eligible for support.

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He added: "At least 60 of the people affected by Serco's lock-out policy actually are refugees with leave to remain. At that point the council are the housing provider, and they are failing with their statutory responsibility.

"We need much better ways for the charities on the ground and the council to provide indirect support."

SNP MP Chris Stephens has said he would like to see the council given more powers to accommodation to more asylum seekers.

READ MORE: Glasgow asylum seekers left destitute after Serco lock-change evictions

He added: "The council obviously have a role to play and I think they have taken a very hard line on this. I would like to see the council given powers to do this, to ensure there is accommodation.

"But before we get to that stage, we need to make sure Glasgow resists plans to evict any fellow Glaswegians in this city.

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"There is a real determination from council colleagues, Living Rent, and members of parliament, that no evictions should take place in this city.

"We would encourage Glaswegians to exercise their human right to peaceful assembly."

READ MORE: Archbishop of Glasgow hits out at forced evictions of asylum seekers

More than a year since the first threat of mass lock-change, Patrick Harvie MSP said the gathering was encouraging.

He added: "The solidarity people want to show when their neighbours and friends are facing the threat of deportation and eviction unjustly is something to be proud of.

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"We all have a moral, human responsibility to step in and prevent a humanitarian crisis that is being caused right now by the mass evictions policy.

"Housing is a human right, and for asylum seekers, no less so."