TEN HOMES in Rugby will be set aside for refugees fleeing war-torn Syria, Rugby Borough Council (RBC) decided on Tuesday (March 1).
The Council made the decision in response to the Government’s commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.
Council leader Coun Michael Stokes said: “We made a commitment in September to play our part in the Government’s humanitarian response to the events in Syria, a commitment which reflected the concerns raised by many residents who contacted the council to offer help and urge us to support the relocation scheme.
“I am pleased we’re now in a position to deliver on that commitment.
“We have developed a co-ordinated approach to ensure Syrian refugees receive the right care package on arrival, from housing to social care and education.
“We intend to explore all housing options to fulfil our commitment to the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, including working with housing associations and forging partnerships with private sector landlords.”
In a report which recommends the move, RBC Executive Director Ian Davis said the refugees would leapfrog a queue of 72 local families currently awaiting accommodation.
He said: “Council is faced with balancing the playing of its part in the Government’s humanitarian initiative with the number of socially rented houses not being sufficient to meet existing demand.”
He recommended the Council confirm its willingness to participate in the Government initiative, and make a maximum of 10 properties available.
Rugby Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition spokesperson Pete McLaren welcomed the move, but said it was not enough.
He said: “This decision is a very small step in the right direction. The Government should provide additional funds to enable Councils to provide the accommodation needed by refugees.
“Over 70 Rugby households are in bed and breakfast or temporary housing waiting for permanent accommodation. Their needs must be met as well.
“Some people argue Britain already has too many migrants, but the facts simply don’t support that. In 2014, 17 European countries took more refugees in proportion to their population than Britain.”
RBC’s role is limited to housing refugees; their health, welfare, education, and security will be the responsibility of Warwickshire County Council.
The Government has earmarked £460 million from the overseas aid budget to help the statutory sector meet the costs of the first year of resettlement.
Local authorities who join the voluntary Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (SVPRS) also look set to benefit from a further £130 million in Government cash during the duration of the refugees’ five year humanitarian protection visas.
The 20,000 Syrian refugees coming to the UK will be taken from the camps in the countries neighbouring Syria. The UK’s criteria prioritises groups including including women, children and young people at risk, survivors of torture and violence, refugees with medical needs, and those with family links in resettlement countries.
Refugees will be granted a five-year humanitarian protection visa, entitling them access to public funds and the labour market, and the possibility of a family reunion. The Home Office retains the right to reject refugees on security, war crimes or other grounds.