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Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

Section 101: Reception zones

312.The provisions of this section are intended as reserve powers that the Secretary of State would only bring into play if local authorities refused to co-operate with the Secretary of State in providing accommodation for asylum seekers. They provide that, having consulted with the local authorities of an area, their associations, and such other persons as he thinks fit, he may make an order designating a reception zone; in doing so he must set out the criteria used to select the zone for designation. The zone would typically be an area comprising a number of local authorities in which the Secretary of State felt there was spare housing accommodation, and the potential to construct a sound base for the support of asylum seekers.

313.Once a reception zone has been designated, and it is apparent to the Secretary of State that there is unoccupied housing available in the area of a particular authority which matches the criteria used to establish the reception zone, it would be open for him to direct that authority to make available to him (or to a person with whom he has contracted for providing support) a specified amount of housing accommodation. Before making a direction, the Secretary of State is required to make regulations setting out the method by which rent and other charges are to be determined; when such amounts are to be paid; and where responsibility rests for maintenance and repairs, and any minor work required to bring the property into use. The direction, which would last for no more than five years, would specify the amount of housing to be made available. Payments would be made to local authorities by the Secretary of State for property made available in this way under the provisions of section 110.

314.Section 101 also requires the Secretary of State to make regulations providing for a dispute resolution procedure, that would be used to resolve any disputes associated with property that is subject to a direction (eg as to how payments in respect of rent are to be determined, or what the true cost of repairs is).

315.Since immigration and asylum matters are reserved functions, it would be for the Home Secretary to exercise the powers in this section. But bearing in mind that housing is a devolved function, he would want to do so only after consultation with the relevant devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; in issuing a direction in Scotland he would need first to obtain confirmation of Scottish Ministers that the designation criteria have been met.

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