Suitcase on a bed of a temporary accomodation

Government urging local authorities to step up efforts to help Afghans

The UK government has urged local authorities and landlords to step up efforts to provide permanent homes for the remaining Afghans who are currently living in temporary hotel accommodation.

A target of supporting all Afghans who have been resettled under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) has been set by the government, for the end of September 2023. Despite this, as of July 2023, there are still around 1,000 Afghans living in temporary accommodation, at a cost of around £1 million per day to taxpayers.

Johnny Mercer, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, said:

“We owe a debt of gratitude to Afghans who have moved to the UK under our resettlement schemes.

“But hotel accommodation must end – it’s unfair on the Afghans living in them, unable to put down more permanent roots, and it is unfair on the taxpayer, who is currently footing the bill.

“To do this we’ve put in place extensive support, which local authorities can use in a variety of ways to support Afghans into permanent accommodation including funding for deposits, rent top ups and furniture, as well as bespoke advice from staff in hotels.”

The government has said that it is providing financial support to local authorities to help them with the resettlement process, with this coming through the £285 million package of support for re-housing. However, some local authorities have said that they are struggling to find permanent homes for Afghans, due to a lack of availability and rising rents.

To help with this, Landlords have also been urged to step up and offer homes to Afghans. The government has said that it will provide landlords with a financial incentive to do so.

The resettlement of Afghans who supported Britain is important for a number of reasons. First, it is a matter of moral obligation. These Afghans risked their lives to help the UK, and they deserve to be given a safe and secure home in return.

Moving people out of hotels and into more permanent accommodation is also in the UK's own interests. Afghans who are properly settled in the UK are more likely to contribute to the economy and society than those who remain in Afghanistan. They are also more likely to be able to help to promote stability and security in their home country.

The resettlement of Afghans is not without its challenges, with the lack of affordable housing availability, and access to education, healthcare, and other essential services posing bumps in the road, however the government has said that it is committed to providing the necessary support to Afghans who are resettled in the UK.

The Local Government Association has also responded to the announcement, with new Chair Cllr Shaun Davies saying:

“Afghan families should not still be living in hotels and councils share the Government’s determination to get them into permanent homes. Councils with hotels continue to work hard locally with partners and with councils across the UK to support Afghan households to quickly find accommodation using the additional government funding in a range of different ways to try and source new homes for them.

“It is good that the Government has provided certainty both for people with medical conditions and for families that councils have matched with properties that will only become available with after the closure of their hotel. We are keen to work with government on how the short-term accommodation options for them and the eviction process for the other households will work for both councils and for families.

“Increased demand and acute shortage of housing available across the country, combined with other pressures from across asylum and resettlement schemes, will make it extremely challenging for the large number of families remaining in hotels to find affordable, long-term accommodation in the areas they want to live in before their hotels close.

“Councils remain hugely concerned that large numbers of families - some of whom are particularly vulnerable – may have to end up presenting as homeless, particularly larger and multi-generational families. This will mean them having to move into high-cost temporary accommodation rather than permanent homes. Councils will do all they can to minimise multiple moves and disruption for families in the remaining time before the hotel closures start, and to secure places in schools for any children moving to new areas when these start again in the Autumn.”

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