The government announcement on the 7th September 2015 to resettle 20,000 Syrians in the UK over the next 5 years is welcome although many would agree that this is still too little and not soon enough. These refugees will be taken from the camps in the countries neighbouring Syria using the established UNHCR process for identifying and resettling refugees. The Home Office and Department for Communities and Local Government will be working with local authorities and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales to put in place the arrangements to house and support the refugees. The cost of supporting the refugees in their first year in Britain will be funded from foreign aid spending.

The Home Office has recently announced that, from 1st July, 2017 those admitted under the SVPRS and VCRS will be granted refugee status and five years’ limited leave to remain. This is a change to the current provision which grants five year’s Humanitarian Protection. Those who have been resettled under these programmes before this date will be given the opportunity to submit a request to change their status from Humanitarian Protection to refugee status. Further details on the policy announcement are available in the written statement by the Home Secretary.

Here are some useful links to information for those of you working with your councils to engage them to take more Syrian refugees.

Syrian_Resettlement_Fact_Sheet_October 2015 

Resettlement criteria

Syrian VPR – Process Map 

2015 09 16 Resettlement NGO Briefing 

UNHCR Resettlement Handbook and Country Chapters.

UK Government Information – providing the latest government announcements and plans on the national Syrian Refugee Resettlement effort

Local Government Association – providing information on national coordination and relevant support links across the UK. A one-stop resource for councillors and council officers to answer any questions you might have about taking in refugees. This includes regional contacts, where to direct residents offering housing and our media statements, amongst other resources.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee report on Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme (13 January 2017) noted that “some local authorities are confused about what exactly it is they are expected to provide to refugees and have also expressed concerns about what programme funds will cover and what they will need to pay for out of their other budgets.” Here is the full report.

Information Sheet from ILPA: Right to refugee status recognised for people resettled in the UK under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and under the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme. This information sheet from ILPA explains the change in government policy so that those resettled in the UK under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme are granted refugee leave, with effect from 1 July 2017, rather than Humanitarian Protection as is the case now.

Video made by the Hammersmith & Fulham Refugees Welcome Group for landlords to encourage them to sign up for VPRS. The film features Alf Dubs and Miranda Hart and is intended as a tool for groups to use for recruiting landlords. For more information about the video and the great work H&F have done do get in touch with Joanne at – [email protected].