Councils must do ‘fare share’ in resettling refugees

A new report by the Home Affairs Committee has called on local authorities to pull their weight when it comes to rehousing Syrian refugees.

The report maintained that while 1,602 people had been accepted under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme March 2016, local authorities were not making a collective effort to provide asylum accommodation.

The group of MPs warned that there was little evidence that the target of resettling 20,000 Syrians by 2020 would happen on schedule and has called on the government to ensure councils are doing enough to help reach the target.

The report stated: “It is clear from the recently published statistics that more local authorities need to contribute to providing asylum accommodation, including for Syrian refugees. There is now a two-tier system among local authorities, with some providing support to Syrian refugees and others not doing so.

“A similar two-tier system applies in the level of support local authorities provide for other asylum-seekers.”

Nonetheless, Councillor David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Asylum, Refugee and Migration Task Group, refuted the findings: “We are confident that there will be sufficient places that will support the

Government’s pledge to resettle 20,000 people by 2020 and the focus must now be on ensuring families are matched to the right placements and that they arrive safely and are well supported.”

Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, said: “Kent is one of just three authorities picked out for particular praise by the Local Government Chronicle for helping hundreds of vulnerable refugees.

“All districts across the county have risen to the challenge and expressed their willingness to accept Syrian families in need. Some districts, including Tunbridge Wells, Ashford, Tonbridge and Dover already have families living in their areas and, so far, Kent districts have committed to accepting around 130 families over the next five years.”

“In addition to the Syrian families, we are also helping a high number of vulnerable unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

“Kent, more than any other local authority, has taken much more than its fair share of responsibility for the unprecedented influx of vulnerable young people, which number around 840 under-18s and more than 500 now over the age of 18.

“We are currently working with the government and other local authorities to ensure there is a fairer dispersal of these children and young people across the UK.”