4 September 2015

Council seeking landlords and coordinating help for refugees from Syria

Brighton & Hove City Council is seeking landlords with properties to rent and is coordinating offers of help for refugees from Syria.

Earlier this year, the council agreed to accept a small number of households under the Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme – a government scheme which brings vulnerable Syrians straight to the UK from the countries bordering Syria. The Home Office provides funding to help the refugees to integrate for the first year. No families have as yet arrived and we are currently working on plans to receive and support those refugees with partners in the NHS and the voluntary sector. 
This scheme operates on the basis that affordable and sustainable accommodation is found for the refugees in the private rented sector. They will be entitled to seek work and claim benefits when they arrive. A range of support services will be available for the households to help with their integration. Landlords who are interested in offering properties for rent, that are within benefit levels, are encouraged to contact the council on refugeehelp@brighton-hove.gov.uk.

We already have experience of receiving a group of refugees in this way. In 2006, 79 people, mostly Oromo from Ethiopia, came to the city on a similar scheme, the Gateway Protection Programme. These people are now British citizens, their children have grown up here and , they are contributing to the community in many ways. 

Following the Government’s announcement, it is likely that the number of people coming into the UK through this scheme will increase and Brighton & Hove City Council will work hard to accommodate additional families, if we are asked to do so.  At this stage, the exact details are not clear.

Brighton & Hove has a long history of welcoming refugees from across the world and has an active support sector for refugees and other migrants. The city was recently awarded City of Sanctuary status for its work with refugees and the council is working closely with the local group, Sanctuary on Sea. 

The council is also collating responses from residents that are making offers of practical support to refugees and asylum seekers that might come to the city as well as those who are already here. The council can also help point residents towards other partners and agencies who can help.  

Offers of help can be emailed to refugeehelp@brighton-hove.gov.uk  

Statement from Cllr Warren Morgan

Cllr Warren Morgan, leader of the council said: “People want to help. I want to help. Brighton and Hove should help, but we will need support from Government to do so.

We will work with local refugee voluntary groups to co-ordinate efforts, and we will play our part in housing those in acute medical need through the Government placement scheme.

To do more in a city with an acute housing shortage, an expensive private rented sector and big reductions in council funding will be tough, but we must try. We have a moral responsibility to do so, just as we do to reduce street homelessness now.

We need the tools from Government to ensure safe, secure and sustainable accommodation can be found for refugees, without making our local situation even worse than it already is. 

We cannot offer refugees sanctuary now only to see them living on the streets in a year's time when the news agenda has moved on. Refugees are welcome in our City of Sanctuary, but we have to ensure we are able to give them the support they need now and in the longer term."