More Government support needed to offer homes to Afghan refugees, say East of England leaders
East of England leaders are seeking more Government support to house refugees fleeing from Afghanistan.
The East of England Local Government Association (EELGA) has written to ministers explaining that the region has struggled to secure fair and sustainable funding to offer homes to recent evacuees.
So far, the region has helped more than 700 who have escaped the war-torn country settle, but the EELGA has warned that with the Government's commitment to supporting more people in the next few years more funding will be needed.
Linda Haysey, chair of EELGA, said: "The East of England has warmly welcomed over 1,000 people from Afghanistan into the region’s hotels and has provided permanent accommodation for more than 400 people with further offers to come.
“The region is committed to supporting newly arrived Afghans to rebuild their lives, to find work and education, and to become part of their local community.
“However, councils in the East of England continue to experience some key difficulties in relation to this Government resettlement scheme, which need further attention and resolution.
“We are raising a number of issues with the Minister for Afghan Resettlement and the Home Office with the aim of improving communication between central and local government and coordination of support on the ground."
Issues raised include ensuring temporary hotel accommodation is close to necessary support services, earlier communication to help accelerate moving families to longer term housing options, and funding.
The region's Strategic Migration Partnership has recently offered more properties for the resettlement scheme, which are currently being assessed by the Home Office.
The British Government said it would help support 20,000 at-risk Afghans over a number of years, after the Taliban resumed control following the withdrawal of the last troops in the region in August.
Suffolk's councils united to support efforts locally, while Suffolk Refugee Support has also continued to aid families.
A Government spokeswoman said: “Councils will receive a generous funding package to support the resettlement of Afghan families, and we are grateful to all those stepping forward to offer homes to Afghan evacuees as they build their lives here in the UK.
“As part of our cross-government response, we have launched a bespoke local engagement team to help facilitate the resettlement of Afghan families in local communities, which includes weekly meetings with regional representatives to address any concerns at a local, regional and national level.”