Refugees

Funding boost for councils as new Afghan resettlement plans set out

Councils who support people through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) or the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme will receive £20,520 per person over three years for resettlement and integration costs.

This is based on the previous Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, but over three rather than five years, with more money provided in the crucial early period to help people settle and become part of their new communities.

Local councils and health partners who resettle families will also receive up to £4,500 per child for education, £850 to cover English language provision for adults requiring this support and £2,600 to cover healthcare.

A further £20m of flexible funding will be made available to support local authorities with higher cost bases with any additional costs in the provision of services.

In addition, the previously announced Afghan Housing Costs Fund will increase from £5m to £17m and run for two extra years to help local authorities provide housing and give certainty that funding will be available in the future.

In a letter to all local authorities in England, Scotland, Wales and to Northern Ireland Executive representatives, the Home Secretary and Communities Secretary have asked more local authorities to now step up and offer places for people coming from Afghanistan.

The funding offer is for councils across the UK.

Commenting, Home Secretary, Priti Patel said:

“The UK is a proud democratic country, so it is unimaginable for many of us to live in fear of being ourselves or not having access to even the most basic rights.

“That is why we are providing a safe haven in the UK for people at risk, including women and girls and minority groups, so they can rebuild their lives safely in the UK.

“The funding we’ve announced will help new arrivals to integrate into British society, while giving councils offering support the certainty they need.”

Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick added:

“I am incredibly impressed by the positive response we’ve received from councils so far, with a large number already pledging their support.

“However, we urgently need more offers of accommodation to welcome Afghan families who have remained firm allies of the UK, working with our troops and our country so bravely in recent years.

“With this extra funding in place, I’m asking all councils who have not yet come forward to contact us with a firm offer of support to help these families secure the best possible start to their new lives.”

Under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, the government has committed to resettling up to 20,000 Afghans, of which 5,000 will be resettled in the scheme’s first year.

This is in addition to the ARAP scheme, which has already resettled thousands of Afghans who have worked with the UK Government and their families.

The policy statement sets out that the ACRS will prioritise those who have assisted the UK’s efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for shared values, such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law.

It also includes other vulnerable people, including women, girls and members of minority groups at risk, including ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT people.

Some of those who arrived in the UK under the Op PITTING evacuation programme, which included individuals who were considered to be at particular risk, will be resettled under the ACRS.

People who were notified by the government that they had been called forward or specifically authorised for evacuation, but were not able to board flights, will also be offered a place if they subsequently come to the UK.

Further to this, to help identify those most at risk and vulnerable, the government is working closely with the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to identify and resettle refugees who have fled Afghanistan based on their protection and humanitarian need.

The government is also working with international partners and NGOs in the region to implement a referral process for people inside Afghanistan, where safe passage can be arranged, and for those that have recently fled to other countries in the region.

Other details released include:

  • While it is expected the vast majority of people resettled under the scheme will be Afghan, nationals of other countries, for example in mixed nationality families, will be eligible.
  • Spouses, partners and dependent children under 18 years of eligible individuals will be eligible for the route. Other family members may be resettled in exceptional circumstances.
  • Unaccompanied children will be accepted where resettlement in the UK is in their best interest, for example, if they cannot be reunited with family in the region.

Commenting, Afghan Resettlement Minister, Victoria Atkins said:

“I’m proud of the mammoth effort taking place across the whole of the UK to welcome people from Afghanistan. Our resettlement scheme will help to build a bright future for thousands of people who have helped us.”

As part of ongoing, government-wide efforts to help Afghan arrivals to rebuild their lives, the Department for Work and Pensions is launching surgeries across the country, run by experienced work coaches with translators, to help those arriving with any questions they may have about employment or benefits.

The government said that these surgeries, combined with access to benefits, will allow new arrivals to receive individual tailored support to help them become self-sufficient more quickly and find work as they get settled in the UK.

The government is also legislating this week to take forward their ‘Operation Warm Welcome’ commitments.

This includes ensuring that all those arriving in both schemes are eligible for social housing and homelessness support after arriving and will be able to claim benefits, such as Universal Credit, from day one and is matched by the immediate right to work upon entry.

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