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Agreement reached on Syrian resettlement target

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Councils have agreed to meet the government’s target of resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020, the Home Office has announced.

The figure represents a significant increase in numbers agreed since July, when LGC research showed councils in a third of top-tier areas in England had agreed to accept just over 8,000 people under the Vulnerable Person Resettlement Scheme announced by David Cameron last year.

Back then councils in around a thid of top tier areas had not pledged to take in any Syrian refugees citing concerns over the level of government funding and pressures on housing and other services. These included 21 London boroughs and every member of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, 

LGC has been told councils in Greater Manchester, which are concnerned about the large numbers of asylum seekers placed there under the national dispersal scheme, have so far still not agreed to take any refugees. LGC has contacted London Councils for comment and has asked the Home Office how many councils have now agreed to take part in the scheme. 

Home secretary Amber Rudd said the agreement to meet the target was “testament to the immense goodwill and generosity of the British people and the effort and determination of local authorities”.

The latest figures show 2,800 Syrians from refugee camps in the Middle East have arrived in 100 local authority areas under the scheme, with a further 100 people expected to arrive on Wednesday.

Ms Rudd yesterday also pledged £10m for English language tuition to help refugees integrate.

She added: “The hard work will continue throughout this parliament as we provide those who have been traumatised and damaged by war with a safe environment and the chance to rebuild their lives.”

In July the government announced an initiative enabling community organisations to apply to sponsor the resettlement of Syrian refugees, with the approval of councils.

David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association’s asylum, refugee and migration task force, said the focus must now be on ensuring refugees receive the right support.

He added: “Councils have an excellent track record in welcoming asylum seeking and refugee children and their families for many years and continue to work hard to support the Syrian resettlement scheme, alongside all the other schemes in current operation.

”They have no say over when people will be allowed to enter the UK, but stand ready to help when they do.”

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