Home Office blocks Devon housing bid

    The Home Office has prevented a council joining a scheme to
    resettle refugees in the UK – despite a lack of councils agreeing
    to take part, it was revealed last week.

    Devon Council wanted to support 10 refugee families from January
    2005 in Exeter under the gateway protection programme, operated
    jointly by the government and the UN. But, following concerns from
    Exeter Council about a shortage of social housing in the city and
    an inadequate consultation process, the Home Office has blocked the
    move.

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

    The programme, which involves the safe transfer of refugees from
    their country of asylum to another one that has agreed to take
    them, aims to resettle up to 500 refugees a year. But since the
    government agreed to take part in 2003, only Sheffield and Bolton
    Councils have participated in the programme, helping 149
    refugees.

    A Home Office spokesperson said officials had worked closely with
    both Devon and Exeter Councils but had been “unable to reach
    agreement with all parties concerned”. She added: “Without both
    local authorities’ consent, the Home Office withdrew the programme
    for Devon.”

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