Councils "confident" of resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees

Councils are "confident" they can resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020 after the Home Office announced that enough places have been secured across the UK.

The pledge, made by former Prime Minister David Cameron, will see refugees resettled from camps bordering Syria, rather than people who are already in Europe. The UN Refugee Agency estimates that 4.8m have been forced to flee the five-year war in Syria.  

Around 2,800 Syrian refugees have relocated to the UK over the past 12 months.

Home secretary Amber Rudd (pictured) said the UK is on track to meet the expansion of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation.

"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," she added.

Under the SVPR, the Government will pay £8,500 per refugee to cover housing, healthcare and other costs for the first year. The figure will be reduced to £1,000 by the fifth year.  

The Home Office has also announced that £10m will be invested in language tuition to help refugees integrate. The funding will provide all adults arriving under the scheme with an extra 12 hours' tuition a week for up to six months.

Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's Asylum, Refugee & 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.

"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."

Charity Refugee Action welcomed the Home Office announcement but urged the Government to 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," chief executive Stephen Hale said.

"It is madness to help one group of refugees to integrate fully whilst at the same time neglecting others. The new funding will not benefit all resettled refugees, or those with refugee status.

"We call on the Government to make sure that all refugees rebuilding their lives here have the opportunity to learn the language of their new home."