Council calls on government to review funding for refugee scheme

The Government is being asked to reconsider its position on funding for hosting some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees, by Malvern Hills District Council.

Councillors voted at a meeting on Tuesday, 14 July not to proceed with a formal bid to the Home Office for the council to take part in the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.

The move follows a similar decision by Worcestershire County Council not to participate in the scheme due to the financial risk involved. It is estimated it would cost between £100,000 to £150,000 a year to meet the health, education, social care and other needs of any refugees.

However the Government scheme only provides funding for 12 months when it is expected refugees would stay for at least five years.

Worcestershire NHS organisations also expressed concerns about the additional financial pressure hosting refugees would put on their budgets.

Cllr Melanie Baker, portfolio holder for housing on Malvern Hills District Council, said: "It is disappointing we have had to take this decision, we would still wish to play a part in the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, but cannot do so without funding from the Government, the county council and other key organisations.

"However I want to make it clear we are not closing the door on the idea of Malvern Hills District Council playing a part in this scheme, only that we are unable to submit a bid at this stage, under these conditions.

"That is why I have written to James Brokenshire MP at the Home Office, to ask the Government to reconsider their position with regards funding for this scheme.

"If the situation changes we will revisit the decision."