Syrian Resettlement Programme

We’re looking into how it can support the Government’s policy to support Syrian refugees. A Multi Agency Forum has been set up, supported by senior officers who will be coordinating the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Runcorn & Widnes. The group is working closely with colleagues from the Liverpool City Region and the Northwest Regional Strategic Migration Partnership (RSMP) to put in place arrangements to house and support refugees that may come to Halton and the wider area. Current group members include:
  • Halton Borough Council Adult, Children, Safeguarding, Public Health and Housing services
  • Voluntary, Community and Faith Partners
  • Cheshire Police
  • Halton’s Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Private and Social Landlords
  • Riverside College
  • Cheshire Fire and Rescue
  • Job Centre Plus
  • Partners from outside Halton with experience of working with Asylum Seekers and Refugees
This is not an exhaustive list of representatives. As plans progress, and best practice is shared, we will liaise with others who live and work in Halton.
Local politicians are committed to supporting the Government’s request for local authorities to volunteer to help those refugees fleeing from the crisis in Syria. We’re living in an increasingly globalised world where the economic and political events in one country can have far-reaching ramifications for people on the other side of the world including ourselves. Therefore as part of this global community we have a responsibility to ensure that people regardless of their place of birth, have the basic human rights to food shelter and security. We feel we have a humanitarian duty to support these refugees fleeing the Syrian crisis and as a county we believe we must do what we can to help. This issue is beyond politics – it’s about doing the right thing as decent people.
The Government have said the UK, supported by councils, will take 20,000 refugees over the next five years. Halton Borough Council has agreed to take 100 individuals over two years, as part of the Liverpool City Region commitment.
We’ll only be taking refugees through the Home Office sponsored Syrian Resettlement Programme. Assessments will take place on people before they come to the UK, which will be done through the UN’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration.
They’ll come from specific refugee camps in and around Syria that the UNHCR and Home Office have identified under the Government’s Syrian Resettlement Programme.
We’ll be looking to accommodate these resettled Syrian refugees within both the private and social rented sectors, across Widnes and Runcorn.   Using current data, we know that there is housing available across Halton to house both the Syrian refugees and still meet the needs of our existing communities.
No – based on current Government guidance, they will be treated in exactly the same way as anyone else in the Borough.  In fact Syrian Resettled Refugees won’t be able to refuse properties offered to them in the way that the general allocation scheme allows local residents refusals.
As the Council is working across the Liverpool City Region and with both private and social landlords, we will use existing properties that are vacant and we anticipate little or no impact on any waiting lists that individual Social Landlords may be holding.
We have a statutory duty for homelessness. As part of this, we offer housing options advice and support to anyone, including a duty to provide temporary/permanent accommodation for those that meet set criteria. We also have a homelessness strategy and work with a range of organisations to prevent homelessness in Halton. This will not change.
The Syrian Resettlement Programme is predominately made up of families who are identified by the UNHCR in the refugee camps. The Home Office, working with local authorities across the UK, have developed a National Transfer Scheme for unaccompanied minors, and it’s unlikely that any will come to the UK via the Syrian Resettlement Programme.
Central Government has provided funding to cover the resettlement costs incurred for the 5 years that Refugees are given Humanitarian Protection.   After which point they are entitled to apply for British Citizenship or return home if it’s safe to do so.
As part of the Borough’s commitment to help refugees we believe Halton should play it’s part to help in this humanitarian crisis. It’s too early to put an accurate figure on what the likely costs will be, and they will vary depending on the specific needs of the individuals and families moving to the Borough and the types of services they might require. However, the Government has provided additional funding to support the resettlement of the Refugees. They will be treated like any new family moving into the Borough and as such are entitled to access Public Services in the same way as any new family moving to Halton from other part of the UK or indeed the world.
Syrian Refugees will be granted five years humanitarian protection, under the Government’s Syrian Resettlement Programme, after which they can either return home (if safe) or apply to settle here under the usual Home Office rules.  The humanitarian protection Refugees are granted entitles them to access public funds, however as part of the Resettlement Programme, the Council is expected to provide intensive support for the first 12 months, with this decreasing over the remaining 4 years.  Many Refugees will bring with them a variety of skills that we hope will enhance Halton, and they will be encouraged to find work in the same way as anyone who claims benefits.
Refugees will have faced incredible hardships to reach Halton, as well as housing support some are likely to need access to education, training and healthcare services.  The Council will also work closely with our voluntary, community and faith organisations to ensure there is social and cultural support available.
Under the Government programme, they would have access to the same benefits as any other borough resident. Those resettled under the Government programme will arrive with refugee status allowing them to work and have access to benefits.
If you wish to get involved or offer support, please get in touch with the Council who will direct you to the appropriate officer.