The Government’s spending watchdog has praised the Government’s progress in resettling refugees from Syria to the UK.
In a report released today, the National Audit Office notes that the Home Office has secured enough indicative pledges from local authorities to meet the target of resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020, but warns that it’s essential these pledges materialise into firm offers of support.
So far, refugees have been resettled around the country spread over 118 local authorities. Around half of the refugees who’ve been resettled are children; the youngest was less than a year old. 55% of the refugees have been resettled because they are survivors of torture or violence, or both.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: “The programme team achieved a great deal in a short amount of time, resettling much larger numbers of refugees than previous programmes, due in large part to the dedication and goodwill of those involved.
“The characteristics of the refugees arriving in the UK will become clearer over time. With this new information, the programme team must adapt budgets so that no organisation taking part in the programme struggles to participate effectively due to cost pressures.”
The NAO also reveal that although the refugees’ experience has been largely positive, some families are worried about their futures because of the status they are given by the Government.
Refugees from Syria who are being resettled here are granted Humanitarian Protection; a different type of leave to remain from refugee status which lasts for 5 years. When this expires, refugees have the chance to apply for indefinite leave to remain.
However, people with Humanitarian Protection have fewer rights than those with refugee status, and it could mean that Syrian refugees struggle to access university as they are not exempt from residency requirements placed on accessing student fees and being classified as ‘home students’.
Refugee Council Head of Advocacy Dr. Lisa Doyle said: “It’s fantastic that communities across the county are helping to uphold Britain’s long history of welcoming refugees during their hour of greatest need. Each Syrian refugee welcomed by the UK will have their life transformed, if not saved by this programme.
“The UK Government must build on this success by offering more refugees safe passage here, particularly by enabling more refugees with family here to join them smoothly and swiftly.”