New Scots refugee integration strategy 2018-2022: evidence of integration

A study of existing evidence on refugee integration in Scotland to support the New Scots strategy 2018-2022.


Policy Background

The UK is a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Refugee Convention) and the supporting 1967 Protocol.  The UK has international legal obligations to recognise, and offer a place of safety to, people who are in the UK and meet the definition of a refugee set out in the convention.

Under current constitutional arrangements in the UK, asylum is reserved to the UK Government and handled by the Home Office.  This includes policy on asylum; the process of considering applications for asylum; the provision of asylum support and accommodation; and the operation of refugee resettlement programmes.

Many of the services which are essential to supporting refugees and asylum seekers to settle into communities are devolved and are the responsibility of the Scottish Government and Scottish local authorities.  This includes health, education, legal services (including legal aid) and housing (excluding asylum accommodation).

Scotland has a clear policy of supporting integration for refugees and asylum seekers from day one of arrival.  This policy was articulated in the first New Scots refugee integration strategy, which ran from 2014-17. The second New Scots strategy was published in January 2018 and runs until 2022.  It is available on the Scottish Government website:

The New Scots refugee integration strategy sees integration as a long-term, two-way process, involving positive change in both individuals and host communities, which leads to cohesive, diverse communities.

The New Scots approach has been developed and led in partnership by the Scottish Government, COSLA and the Scottish Refugee Council.  The development and implementation of both New Scots strategies has involved a wide range of partners from public services, charities, third sector organisations and community groups, as well as refugees and people seeking asylum.

The timeline below indicates some key UK policy changes which will have impacted refugees, asylum seekers or service providers in Scotland over the time period considered by this report.  Asylum is a complex policy area, and this is not a comprehensive overview.  However, it gives an indication of the changing context within which refugee integration has been taking place.




Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 - commences the policy of asylum dispersal. (Glasgow has been the only asylum dispersal area in Scotland since this policy began.)


Dublin II Regulation EC No 343/2003 established the criteria and mechanisms for determining the EU Member State responsible for examining an asylum application.


Gateway Protection Programme launched (the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 provided the legal basis for this refugee resettlement programme).


Change to settlement application policy - grant of five years' limited leave rather than indefinite leave to remain (settlement) for successful asylum applicants.


UK Borders Act 2007 - Asylum seekers are eligible for in-country support while an appeal is pending.


Asylum seekers whose application has been awaiting an initial decision for more than a year can apply for permission to work (in a shortage occupation role).


Commercial and Operational Managers Procuring Asylum Support Services (COMPASS) contracts commence - this replaced a previous system of 22 separate contracts for provision of asylum accommodation and support.  Serco becomes the COMPASS contract holder for Scotland.


UK Syrian Resettlement Programme - commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees to the UK by 2020.

Study Aims and Objectives

The aim of this study was to identify sources of evidence which can inform work in Scotland to support refugee integration in the context of the New Scots refugee integration strategy.

The study set out to consider the shape, character and format of the evidence identified.  It does not undertake a systematic evaluation of the quality or content of any evidence identified.  It focuses on providing an oversight of the character of evidence available based on theme, date of publication and the generators of research (funders, academia and project deliverers).



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