UK Government investing over £0.5bn in Syrian resettlement programme

UK Parliament website logoCoventry South Labour Member of the UK parliament Jim Cunningham got a response from the Home Office today to his Written Question. As an MP, he has taken an interest in Syria for some time.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made of the total cost of resettling refugees from Syria in each of the next five years; and if she will make a statement.

The answer confirmed how the UK Government was paying for the first year of the Syrian vulnerable person resettlement programme and the calendarisation of costs over the five years of the scheme.

The first 12 months of each refugee’s resettlement costs under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement (VPR) Scheme will be funded using Official Development Assistance. At the Spending Review the Government committed £129 million to assist with local authority costs over years 2-5 of the scheme.

The total estimated cost of the scheme in each of the next five years is: £99 million in 2016-2017, £129 million in 2017-2018, £149 million in 2018-2019 and £83 million in 2020-2021.

The Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz (Labour) is reported by the BBC to have written to the Prime Minister David Cameron to clarify the costs.

“This is a huge figure … As the Home Office refuses to provide regular updates on the numbers being resettled, or where they are being placed, there is an unacceptable lack of transparency in the use of these significant funds.”

The BBC online news article explains:

  • So far 1,194 Syrians have been resettled in the UK under the scheme, including 605 under-18s, according to government figures.
  • Local authorities can volunteer to take part in the VPR scheme and as of the beginning of December, 55 had signed up.
  • Refugees are being allowed to stay for five years, after which they can apply to settle in the UK.
  • About £1.1bn of UK money is being used to fund humanitarian aid programmes in and around Syria.