Home Office bans council from refugee scheme

    The Home Office has stopped a council from taking part in a
    scheme to resettle refugees in UK despite only two other local
    authorities agreeing to participate, it emerged this week,
    writes Amy Taylor.

    Devon Council wanted to support 10 refugee families in Exeter
    under the gateway protection programme, operated jointly by the
    government and the United Nations, from January 2005. But the Home
    Office has decided that the scheme should not run in the city due
    to concerns raised by Exeter Council.

    An Exeter Council spokesperson said that the authority had
    “reservations” about providing housing for the families
    as there was a shortage of social housing in the city and that it
    felt that the consultation process on the scheme had been
    inadequate. The Home Office was told about these concerns and Ben
    Bradshaw, the Labour MP for Exeter, reiterated them to immigration
    minister Des Browne.

    A spokesperson for Bradshaw said that the MP supported the
    scheme in general, just not in this particular case.

    A Devon Council spokesperson denied that there had been a lack
    of consultation and said that it planned to house the families in
    Devon Council managed property.

    The programme aims to resettle up to 500 refugees a year but it
    has helped only 150 people since the government agreed to take part
    in 2003.

    It involves the safe transfer of refugees from their country of
    asylum to another one that has previously agreed to take them. So
    far only two councils have participated in the programme. These are
    Sheffield which has taken 69 refugees and Bolton which has taken
    80.

    A Home Office spokesperson said that Home Office officials had
    worked closely with both Devon and Exeter Councils but had been
    “unable to reach agreement with all parties
    concerned”.

     

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