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

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


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