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Background

Background to the Government's Syrian Vulnerable Person Scheme

Cornwall made a formal offer to the Home Office, in December 2015, to resettle Syrian families travelling to the UK under the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Person Scheme.

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We offered to provide resettlement, as part of a five-year programme. We have successfully offered resettlement to a number of families into our local communities and work continues to support any individuals willing to provide accommodation at affordable rents and groups wanting to be part of community sponsorship.

We will continue to work with the Home Office and South West Migration Partnership to determine what part Cornwall can play, in supporting Syrian refugee families, over the next five years.

A multi-agency partnership, set up by the Council and supported by the Home Office, is working together to support Syrian refugee families that are resettled in Cornwall. The partnership consists of Cornwall Council – including housing, education, adults, children’s, and localism services, NHS Kernow, Job Centre Plus, Inclusion Cornwall, Devon and Cornwall Police, Careers South West and community and faith representatives.

To prepare for refugee families, the group mapped availability of schools’ places, primary care services, access to language and religious support and availability of private sector rented accommodation. Work continued to take place with local community groups and individuals who have expressed a wish to provide help to the refugees.

John Pollard, Leader of Cornwall Council said: “Cornwall has a proud record of being open-hearted and inclusive and we are looking forward to being able to welcome our first Syrian families. It is hard for us to imagine what refugees have been through, but we hope that they will be able to find a new start here in Cornwall where they will be able to feel safe and free from persecution.”

Refugees resettled in the UK through the Government scheme are provided with a full medical check-up and security vetting before they arrive in the country. They are flown directly from the countries bordering Syria to England and those families that come to Cornwall will be met by representatives of the Cornwall Refugee Partnership and taken to their new homes.

To protect their privacy, the partnership will not be in a position to provide any details about any Syrian families resettled in Cornwall, but we can confirm they will not initially be housed within social housing stock.

In his statement to the House of Commons on 7 September, the Prime Minister announced that Britain should resettle up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the rest of the Parliament. These refugees will be taken from the camps in the countries neighbouring Syria using the established process for identifying and resettling refugees. The Prime Minister also announced that the criteria for the existing Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme will be expanded. The scheme prioritises those who cannot be supported effectively in their region of origin: women and children at risk, people in severe need of medical care and survivors of torture and violence.

The Home Office and Department for Communities and Local Government are working with local authorities to put in place the arrangements to house and support the refugees.

How will the arrangements for settling Syrian refugees operate and be funded?

The first 12 months of a refugee's resettlement costs are fully funded by Central Government using the overseas aid budget.

The Government has also committed to the allocation of a further £130m by 2019-20 to local authorities to contribute to the costs of supporting refugees beyond their first year in the UK.

Funding continues to be provided through central government from point of arrival until year 5 of resettlement. No Council funding is used in the service delivery of the refugee scheme.