Recommendations to offer a safe haven for up to five families who have fled war-torn Syria will be considered by the Isle of Wight Executive this Thursday evening.
Details of the recommendations have been revealed in papers for the Executive meeting (see below) and surround three specific government schemes; Unaccompanied Children, Asylum Dispersal Scheme and the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
Members will be asked to note the new statutory responsibilities and government intentions to fairly disperse asylum seekers awaiting approval to stay in the UK.
‘Determined’ to help
Although the council must make provision – as a requirement of the Immigration Act 2016 – for unaccompanied migrant and refugee children, there is no legal requirement for council involvement in the Asylum Dispersal Scheme or Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
However, in September 2015, the Isle of Wight council stated they were ‘determined’ to help Syrian refugee families. At that time, they were awaiting guidance from the Government, but Cllrs Steve Stubbings and Geoff Lumley said they hoped to provide a safe haven for at least ten families.
Host communities approaching capacity
The report reveals the three main South East host communities providing accommodation and support for those seeking asylum have been Hastings, Portsmouth and Southampton.
They, and others around the country, now say they are approaching capacity.
Papers go on to state that of the 14 councils in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight area, “four have hosted refugee families, two have declined to make offers as they are participating in other arrival programmes, and five councils are assessing the implications of making an offer”.
Members will be asked to consider the following recommendation:
To improve the council’s readiness to respond to national migration and refugee re-settlement programmes. Actions will include the following:
(a) Noting new statutory responsibilities toward unaccompanied migrant and refugee children.
(b) Noting government intentions to consider accommodating temporary migrant residents on the Isle of Wight, and for the development of arrangements for responding to Home Office proposals, and reflect the aspirations of other councils in the region by accommodating up to five families.
(c) An assessment of council and community capacity to participate in the Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme and if appropriate, develop an action plan in response.