London boroughs have a long and proud history of helping refugees and asylum seekers. Boroughs stand ready to help further as part of the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. London Councils is keen to work with Government to ensure that local authorities can participate sustainably in the scheme and to ensure that Syrian refugees resettled are given the best chance to integrate fully into their communities.
The Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme was launched in January 2014, and it was announced in September 2015 that the scheme would be expanded to resettle up to 20,000 Syrians in need of protection during this Parliament.
The Government has announced that it has received enough pledges to reach the target 20,000 but is keen to continue to engage authorities in pledging what they can and in making these pledges become reality. Local Authorities participate in the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and the Children at Risk Scheme on a voluntary basis.
London boroughs have already resettled over 300 Syrian Refugees through the scheme and many more have pledged their support. In addition to this, London is already doing a huge amount to support over 1,000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children, as well as refugees and asylum seekers arriving into the UK by other means.
One of the principal challenges London boroughs are facing is sourcing private rented accommodation that is both available and affordable to those receiving Local Housing Allowance and subject to both the cap on Local Housing Allowance rates and the cap on total benefits. This makes it particularly difficult to find suitable accommodation to resettle larger families. While there are more opportunities to resettle individuals the funding does not recognise the additional cost of this, where efficiencies can’t be made by larger families sharing accommodation.
In July 2017 it was announced that London would receive funding for a coordinator post, based at City Hall, which will work with local authorities and communities, businesses and organisations to create a model of Community Sponsorship that works for the capital, by seeking to bring together offers of support to help Syrian refugees make London their home.