Betts urges government to commit to five-year funding deal for refugees

24 Sep 15

The chair of the communities and local government select committee has called on the government to clarify the funding that will be available to councils that accommodate Syrian refugees.

Clive Betts said ministers should commit to reimbursing councils for all additional costs as a result of taking in refugees over the five-year period in which Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to take in 20,000 refugees.

Betts highlighted that Local Government Secretary Greg Clark told the select committee on 15 September that Syrian refugees would be given at least a five-year period of stay in this country. Clark also indicated that government would help local authorities meet the extra costs for at least this period.

The committee is now concerned that additional Whitehall funding has only been confirmed for the first year, to come from the UK’s international aid budget, Betts said.

“The refugee crisis is an urgent problem and the government needs to spell out far more clearly what support they are going to provide to local authorities who will bear the additional schooling, healthcare and housing costs.

“The government has made a commitment to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees and ministers should match this with a promise to cover the full costs incurred by local councils – not just for the first year – to deliver this national policy.”

If ministers failed to do this, it would send a message to local people that accommodating refugees would lead to further cuts in local council services, he added.

“As a country we have a responsibility to help refugees but the government must avoid potential damage to community relations by failing to provide the necessary support to local authorities.”

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