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Places for 20,000 Syrian refugees found among local authorities

Councils have pledged to help 20,000 Syrian refugees who will be resettled in Britain by 2020.

The Home Office announced today that all 20,000 local authority places have now been found, one year after it promised to increase the number of refugees the country accepts following public pressure.

In addition, it promised £10m more funding, which will entitle each refugee to an extra 12 hours of free English language tuition for up to six months.

Cllr David Simmonds, chair of the LGA’s asylum, refugee and migration task group, said: “We have previously said that we were confident in ensuring there were sufficient places to 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.

“Councils have an excellent track record in welcoming asylum seeking and refugee children and their families for many years and continue to work hard to support the Syrian resettlement scheme, alongside all the other schemes in current operation. They have no say over when people will be allowed to enter the UK, but stand ready to help when they do.

“There are multiple schemes in operation for supporting refugees and there are also thousands of asylum seekers who are not housed by councils but who rely on council services.

“Councils will be helping to support some of the most vulnerable families fleeing Syria who will need ongoing support from health and social care services to cope with injuries, disabilities and to recover from the severe trauma they have experienced.”

The UK successfully met its target to resettle 1,000 refugees by the end of last year, with the latest figures showing more than 2,800 Syrians have now been accepted.

However, there are concerns that the distribution of the refugees is unfair. A recent Home Affairs Select Committee report warned of a ‘two-tier’ system of councils’ acceptance of refugees, with just 71 councils taking any at all and the least well-off councils taking the most.

In May, the then prime minister David Cameron accepted an amendment to the Immigration Bill increasing the number of unaccompanied child refugees the UK accepts, despite opposition from the LGA.

A delegation from the LGA recently held meetings with the mayor of Calais to discuss a co-ordinated response to the refugee crisis between the two countries.

Amber Rudd, the home secretary, said: “Securing the 20,000 pledges within 12 months is testament to the immense goodwill and generosity of the British people and the effort and determination of local authorities across the UK.

“We are on track and delivering our commitment to help the most vulnerable Syrians displaced by the conflict.”

Stephen Hale, chief executive of charity Refugee Action, said: “Like so many in Britain, Refugee Action welcomes the arrival of over 2,800 resettled Syrian refugees over the past 12 months. But the UK must go further and faster. The devastating war in Syria continues. The government should go beyond the commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrians made one year ago.”

He also called for the free English lessons to be offered to all refugees, not just Syrians.

“It is madness to help one group of refugees to integrate fully whilst at the same time neglecting others,” he said.

(Image c. Yui Mok from PA Archive)

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Alan Caine   05/09/2016 at 12:45

If LAs can find accommodation for migrants, why are ex services personnel sleeping rough due to lack of accommodation? Surely our priorities should be to look after our own first. The govt & LAs need to look at their skewed policies. Lets look after our own first, who have looked after us, then migrants..

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