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Council Leaders Agree on North Yorkshire Refugees

Council Leaders Agree on North Yorkshire Refugees

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Stuart Minting at 3:41pm 18th October 2019.

Leaders of councils across North Yorkshire have agreed to propose to their councils participation in the government’s future refugee resettlement scheme from next year.

The move follows Home Secretary Sajid Javid confirming the UK plans to resettle in the region of 5,000 of the world’s most vulnerable refugees in the first year of the new scheme, adding to the nearly 16,000 refugees resettled in the country since 2015 under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

A meeting of Local Government North Yorkshire and York heard it had been proposed the county took a “more conservative target” of an average of 50 refugees being resettled each year due to a lack of available and suitable housing in the county.

Officers said 50 people would equate to one per cent of the envisaged national programme of 5,000 refugees a year.

Officers told the meeting local authorities would receive £20,000 per refugee over five years, plus an additional amount to provide education for refugees aged 13 to 18 years.

Selby District Council leader said Councillor Mark Crane warned against selecting a few families to move into an area at any one time, saying refugees often gravitated towards places where there were people from similar backgrounds.

He added:

“One of the issues we have is that obviously we’re not too far from Leeds and some of the refugees who settled in Selby subsequently moved to Leeds because there was a larger group of similar people who lived in Leeds.”

Officers replied that of the 45 refugee families that had been resettled in North Yorkshire in recent years, seven had moved out of the county, the majority of which had moved to be with their extended family elsewhere in the country.

However, they added one of the challenges for the refugee programme was that extended families were often split up across different refugee camps in different countries. They said the government had been urged to help identify potential family links at an earlier stage.

Councillor Helen Grant, deputy leader of Richmondshire District Council, said the scheme had been very successful in the district and told she was aware of one family that had “integrated fantastically”.

She said:

“I think it should be something that we are all very proud of, not something which we try to pick holes in.

I am very confident that if we have other residents who come from war zones in the future we will handle them in exactly the same way, make them very welcome, and hope that they can assimilate themselves into their own family units wherever they are in the country, because that’s what we would do if we were in the same position.”

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