North Herts District Council reiterates desire to help Syrian refugees

North Herts District Councillors are keen to support refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

North Herts District Councillors are keen to support refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. - Credit: Archant

North Herts District Council has reiterated its desire to help refugees fleeing war-torn Syria rebuild their lives, but stressed that it will be a complicated and potentially costly process.

Cabinet members backed calls to home 50 refugees in North Herts over the next five years at their meeting in Letchworth on Tuesday night, despite uncertainty remaining over the amount of officer time and money which will be spent on the resettlement.

More than £460 million of the Government’s overseas aid budget will be used to assist local authorities with the five-year costs of resettling 20,000 of the most vulnerable refugees.

Martin Lawrence, who is the strategic housing manager reporting to the district council on the matter, said: “These very disadvantaged families will require an enormous amount of social care.

“The local authority will drive the pace of this, and can reject and accept any application. In extreme cases, extra Government funds will be allocated to cover the cost of resettlement.

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“Housing associations are happy to help by providing the bricks and mortar.

“If refugees are moved into privately rented homes we will look for a longer tenancy arrangement with landlords.”

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Councillor Terry Hone said: “Sooner or later this will cost us money, which means reaching into the hands of the tax payers in North Hertfordshire.

“Will we be fully reimbursed by the government? It is probably not going to happen.”

Councillor Bernard Lovewell said: “There is no doubting the willpower of this council to support these refugees, it is down to the practicalities.

“We are entering an area of uncertainty but we really do need to get on with this.

“There is a huge amount of officer time that will need to be spent on the resettlements.”

Councillor Julian Cunningham said: “This is not an easy exercise, but people have been in refugee camps for a long time and it is not a pleasant experience.”

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