Press release on Syrian Resettlement Scheme

Council leaders across Worcestershire have agreed to go ahead with a formal bid to the Home Office to relocate Syrian refugees across the county.

Negotiations will begin later this month with the Home Office and West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership to host up to 50 people in Worcestershire by the end of 2016.

It follows a decision by the leaders of Worcestershire County, Bromsgrove District, Malvern Hills District, Redditch Borough, Worcester City, Wychavon District and Wyre Forest District Councils at a meeting on 7 January.

The Government originally confirmed the full cost of supporting Syrian refugees for the first 12 months will be provided to councils from the Foreign Aid budget.

The arriving refugees will be looked to be housed within the private rented sector, to minimise the impact on social housing supply and other vulnerable groups. Some districts have already been approached by private landlords offering to house refugees.

Worcestershire Leaders said: “We’ve always been clear we were prepared to play our part in housing some of the most vulnerable people affected by the Syrian conflict, but we needed assurances over funding. We’re delighted we now have those assurances and are able to proceed with a formal bid.

“A huge amount of work still needs to be done and complex detail gone through, before we can accept our first families. We need to ensure the right infrastructure and support networks are in place to fully support Syrian refugees arriving here and help them settle into the community.

“As a result there’s no date yet for when we will receive our first families but our aim will be to ensure they arrive sooner rather than later.”

A decision on how many more Syrian refugees will be housed in Worcestershire over the next four years up until 2020 will be made once the initial families have arrived and begun to settle in.

Cllr Melanie Baker, portfolio holder for housing on Malvern Hills District Council, said: “I’m delighted we’re now in a position to proceed with a formal bid and can do so in a way which ensures our residents do not lose out.

“We’ll be pushing for the work which now needs to be done to be completed as soon as possible so we can get the right support in place and start welcoming families to Worcestershire at the earliest possible opportunity.

“None of us should forget these are not statistics on a page but real people whose lives have been devastated by events in Syria and it’s only right we should offer them sanctuary.”