Council prepares to help Syrian families

Published Monday 16 May 2016

Harborough District Council is preparing to help house and support a number of Syrian families over the next five years.

The council has pledged to work with the private sector to ensure that one property within the Harborough district is made available to home the Syrian refugees each year for the next five years.

After a year, the council will review the arrangement to assess whether this can be sustained.

District councils in Leicestershire and Rutland County Council are working together to find suitable homes for refugees who will arrive under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.

Charnwood, Blaby, Harborough, Hinckley and Bosworth, Melton, North West Leicestershire and Rutland councils have all agreed to take part in the relocation scheme.

Some families will arrive in July (TBC) and Charnwood is co-ordinating the securing of properties and an officer will be appointed soon.

Councillor Blake Pain, Leader of Harborough District Council, said: “Over the next five years we will be working with others to ensure that safe and secure homes are provided to families affected by the distressing situation in Syria. We will be offering support for the families as they settle into the district and I’m sure they will be welcomed into our local communities.”

The Council will seek to use private sector housing.

The refugees will be coming from designated camps close to the Syrian border or areas around those camps. They will not be coming from Calais or anywhere else.



Notes to Editors

  • "Refugee" in this context means an asylum seeker whose application has been successful. In its broader context it means a person fleeing situations including civil war or natural disaster but not necessarily fearing persecution as defined by the 1951 Refugee Convention. Refugee status allows a person to claim benefits and tax credits on the same basis as a UK national.
  • Home Office guidance states that the council is strictly not to give out any details of the refugee families, nor must they be put in a situation where they will be before the media, without their express consent. The media will be notified of any opportunities to speak to them if consent is obtained. However, we ask that their privacy is respected, particularly as they are fleeing a traumatic situation.


What will the councils need to do?

The councils will be required to take care of everything for the refugees when they arrive. The emphasis will be firmly on integration. This includes:

  • Collecting them from the airport
  • Welcoming them to the borough from the ‘meet and greet moment’ itself and then the initial work following an assessment by the housing team as we help them with the points below:
  • Liaising with interpreters
  • Getting them access to food in the early stages
  • Helping them meet with DWP representatives to assess their suitability for work and offering advice on benefits as they are afforded refugee status in that regard
  • Assisting them with basic furnishing requirements
  • Getting them registered with doctors and dentists
  • Accessing education provision for their children
  • Working with the voluntary sector to support their immediate needs and any vulnerabilities they may have


Will councils receive any extra funding?

Under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, the Government provides councils with £8,520 per person, per year. The co-ordinator being brought in at Charnwood will also be funded through this money


List of councils working together

Below is a list of the councils working together and the number of refugees they have agreed to help. The number of people is based on households of up to five people. Some authorities have yet to finalise arrangements and that is indicated below.  

Blaby District Council
Two properties a year for four years. (Up to 40 people)
Type of housing: Private Rented Sector

Charnwood Borough Council
Two properties a year for five years. (Up to 50 people)
Type of housing: Private Rented Sector

Harborough District Council
One property a year for five years (up to 25 people). Reviewed after one year to assess whether this can be sustained.
Type of housing: Private Rented Sector

Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council
Two properties a year for five years. (Up to 50 people)
Type of housing: Not decided

Melton Borough Council
Two properties a year for five years. (Up to 50 people)
Type of housing: Private Rented Sector

North West Leicestershire District Council
Two properties a year for five years. (Up to 50 people) Awaiting consideration by Cabinet on May 3)
Type of housing: Private Rented/RP and Council stock all under consideration

Rutland County Council
Rutland is intending to take 12 individuals over the next four to five years