Bexley Labour group 'dismayed' as figures show council has not resettled any Syrian refugees
PUBLISHED: 09:34 03 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:34 03 August 2016
© Gulay Sakalli
A new report claims local authorities are not pulling their weight in resettling refugees
Bexley Labour councillors have expressed their dismay at the council’s record on resettling Syrian refugees as a report revealed the borough has not taken on any families under a government-backed scheme.
The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee’s report says local authorities are not ‘pulling their weight’ in resettling Syrian refugees, jeopardising the government’s target of resettling 20,000 Syrians by 2020.
Labour leader Alan Deadman said: “Bexley Labour Group were dismayed some time ago when the Tory-led council said that there is no room in Bexley for asylum seekers. We had hoped that they would have found room to take a number of those legally entitled to be in the country.”
Launched in 2015, the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme aimed to ensure an ‘equitable distribution’ of refugees so no local authority bore a disproportionate share of the burden.
Yet the figures reveal a wide disparity between the number of refugees accepted across the UK.
Coventry has resettled the most refugees (105), with Nottingham (81), Renfrewshire (68) and Gateshead (62) also accepting large numbers.
Only four Greater London boroughs - Barnet, Camden, Islington and Kingston-Upon-Thames - have so far accepted any refugees.
A spokesperson for Bexley Council said: “We have great sympathy for the people fleeing Syria.
“As you will be aware, the government and international agencies are working hard to support refugees in the region.
“There continues to be limited capacity to house refugees in Bexley given the growing number of homeless people we are trying to find homes for. We now have more than 800 households in temporary and emergency accommodation, a number of which have had to be located outside the borough.
“Bexley is currently supporting some Syrian and other unaccompanied asylum seeking children. We have not refused to help Syrian refugee households and we will continue to monitor the situation closely, but we would want to be confident that other needs – such as school places, health and social care – could also be met should we offer assistance.
“We continue to be mindful of the financial constraints on the Council due to reducing government grant, increased demand and unfunded new responsibilities.”