We all want to bring refugees from the Syrian conflict to the UK as quickly as possible. We share the desire to see things happen more rapidly and want to harness the support and goodwill emanating from across the United Kingdom at every level of society. We remain extremely grateful for all expressions of interest and pledges of support and have made genuine progress in a short period of time. Last week we welcomed the first group of refugees since the Prime Minister’s announcement that we would take 20,000 more people during the course of this Parliament. Further new arrivals are due in the UK in the coming weeks.
We have been working closely with UNHCR which has resulted in them referring more cases to us with a view to many more refugees arriving before the end of the year. A team of officials were at the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva last Friday and will return this Friday to discuss expansion plans in detail. Phase one of our programme is to build on the fact that we have been operating resettlement schemes for many years and have established effective networks to accommodate and support resettled people.
A key part of phase one is to turn pledges of support from local authorities into concrete places. The first 12 months of a refugee’s resettlement costs are fully funded by central government using the overseas aid budget. To ensure that local authorities can plan ahead and continue to respond to the overwhelmingly generous response of the British people, we will also provide additional funding to assist with costs incurred in future years.
These arrangements will be applied to all cases since the 20,000 expansion was announced. We understand that Councils need certainty about the financing of the scheme in order to enter into contracts and commit resources. We will be working closely with local government to develop the process for drawing down the funding in order that this certainty can be given, including to those councils offering help under the existing scheme
The increase in numbers that this funding agreement will bring will necessitate an expansion of current networks. The second phase of our programme will involve working together to build systems that can meet the needs of more people, more quickly whilst minimising the impact on local communities. Our programme will utilise strategic and operational expertise encouraging innovative practice from all levels of government, NGOs and the civil society. We will write further as we build our programme team and crystallise our thinking.
We welcome your ongoing support and commitment and look forward to continue working with you.
This is very similar to a letter sent to the Chair of the LGA Children and Young People Board , Cllr David Simmonds: