Sajid Javid has announced that the UK will resettle 5,000 more refugees under a new, expanded resettlement scheme that will come into force next year.
Speaking at a roundtable with faith leaders yesterday, the home secretary said that the Government plans to consolidate the Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme, the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme and the Gateway Protection Programme into one scheme.
This new programme would be ‘simpler’ to operate and provide ‘greater consistency’ in the way that the Government resettles refugees, according to Mr Javid. It will also broaden the geographical focus of previous resettlement programs beyond the Middle East and North Africa.
Nearly 16,000 refugees have been resettled in the UK since 2015 under the Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme and others have been granted asylum through other routes.
‘Under our new scheme, thousands more people fleeing conflict and persecution will have the opportunity to build a new life in the UK,’ said Mr Javid.
‘I’m proud of the world-leading work we have done in the Middle East and Africa so far – but there is so much more to do.’
Rossella Pagliuchi-Lor, UK Representative for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said she was ‘delighted’ by the announcement.
‘Resettlement is a crucial component of international solidarity for those states bearing the greatest burden and gives refugees the possibility of rebuilding their lives,’ she said.
‘We hope this serves as a signal for other countries to provide more routes to safety for those forced to flee as the international community moves to make the global compact on refugees a reality.’
Councils will receive one-year of funding in order to support the delivery of the new scheme. However, the Local Government Association (LGA) warns that Whitehall needs to ensure the programme is funded over the long term.
‘While it is good that councils will receive initial one-year funding to deliver the scheme at the same level, this needs to be followed through with long-term funding in the Spending Review,’ said an LGA spokesperson.
‘We look forward to continue to work with government and other partners to make sure all new arrivals get the support they need to settle into their new communities.
‘Clear links need to be made across all the programmes that resettle asylum seekers, refugee families and children to make sure there is enough funding for all new arrivals building new lives in the UK.’