Local Authority Support for Refugees

Thomas Stephens made this Freedom of Information request to Newham Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Thomas Stephens

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to make a Freedom of Information request for data relating to support which the Local Authority is providing to refugees – most particularly Syrian refugees affected by the ongoing conflict in the region.

I am interested in whether the Council has enrolled in the various central schemes which have been established to support refugees; how many refugees you support under these schemes; the policies you have in place to ensure people in the local community can provide assistance; and the central Government funding you receive to provide this assistance.

By my understanding, there are a number of ways in which refugees, asylum seekers and persons under humanitarian protection can end up in the borough, but the information the Council will hold on these groups will differ. I am interested in three particular groups of refugees / persons under humanitarian protection, all of whom should be known to the council:

1. People Supported under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS): This is the main scheme for supporting Syrians who are seeking asylum in the UK, and I understand Local Authorities have to voluntarily sign-up to support people through this scheme. People supported through the VPRS receive five years’ leave to remain and are granted the status of persons under humanitarian protection, rather than refugees per se. They are entitled to welfare support on the same basis as UK citizens. The Government has set aside some £460 million to assist with Local Authority costs for the first year of the scheme, and £130 million for the four years thereafter, with higher funding for year 2 than year 5. This inevitably raises questions about whether Councils have sufficient central funding for the scheme, and I am keen to know your thoughts on this.

2. The Gateway Protection Programme (GPP): I understand that under this scheme, refugees receive Indefinite Leave to Remain and are also entitled to public funds on the same basis as UK citizens. Again, it is up to Local Authorities if they wish to participate, but if they do the Home Office provides funding for all their support in their first year of arrival. It is unclear who takes up the cost of funding in the years thereafter.

3. Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC): Finally, unaccompanied children can claim asylum in the UK. It is of course the responsibility of Local Authorities to carry out an age assessment of any individuals claiming asylum in this category, and referrals could come in from a range of bodies – including the police, UKVI or UK Border Agency staff. If accepted, Local Authorities then have a statutory responsibility to carry out an assessment of their needs and to support all children in need in their area. Local Government receives central funding to provide for these children, but it is capped at a set level and I am interested in knowing whether it is sufficient for councils in London.

With this in mind, I would be grateful if you could provide the following information:

1. How many refugees, asylum seekers and persons under humanitarian protection, under each of these schemes, resided in the Council in 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16; and if applicable, how many does the Council expect to support in all subsequent financial years up to 2019/20?

2. What assessment have you made of the costs to the Local Authority of supporting these individuals under each of the above schemes in each of the financial years from 2013/14 through to 2019/20?

3. (a) For each of these groups, are you satisfied that you have been given sufficient Central Government funding to meet these additional costs to the Local Authority, for each of the years which it is anticipated they will be resident locally?
(b) If not, what was the funding shortfall for each scheme the years 2013/14, 2014/15 and
2015/16, and what is the anticipated funding shortfall based on current trends for the subsequent financial years up to 2019/20? Please provide a single figure for each scheme on the overall level of the funding shortfall when all participants in each scheme are taken into account.

4. What measures is the Council taking to ensure that (a) individuals (b) Private Rented Sector landlords (c) Housing Associations and (d) other organisations who wish to help support refugees are able to play their part? For example, does the Council operate a register which enables such individuals or groups to come forward and offer to assist in housing and helping these refugees?

5. With respect to Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children:
(a) How many assessments were carried out by the Council in 2015/16 to establish whether migrants were Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children?
(b) What was the average length of time it took to carry out these age assessments in this year?
(c) What was the longest length of time it took for the council to carry out an age assessment in this year?

Thank you in advance for your assistance. Should you have any questions about this FOI Request, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.

Yours faithfully,

Tom Stephens

Newham Borough Council

REQUESTER REFERENCE: C13349
ENQUIRY REFERENCE: E26833
Please quote your references when contacting the Council.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Thank you for your request for information received on 14/05/2016. We are dealing with your request and plan to respond before 14/06/2016.

If you have any queries or concerns, please contact the Information Governance Team on 020 8430 3737 or email us at: [Newham Borough Council request email]

Yours Faithfully

Information Governance Team
Newham Council

Newham Council Publication Scheme is on: www.newham.gov.uk

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Newham Borough Council

REQUESTER REFERENCE: C13349
ENQUIRY REFERENCE: E26836
Please quote your references when contacting the Council.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Thank you for your request for information received on 14/05/2016. We are dealing with your request and plan to respond before 14/06/2016.

If you have any queries or concerns, please contact the Information Governance Team on 020 8430 3737 or email us at: [Newham Borough Council request email]

Yours Faithfully

Information Governance Team
Newham Council

Newham Council Publication Scheme is on: www.newham.gov.uk

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Newham Borough Council,

I am still waiting for a response to this query. Would you be able to update me on your progress in addressing my questions?

Thank you in advance for your reply.

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Stephens

Newham Borough Council

1 Atodiad

Dear requester,

Thank you for your request. We attach our response under the disclosure provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We apologise for the delay in responding to you.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on 020 8430 2000 or email us at [Newham Borough Council request email].

Alternatively, if you believe we have not dealt with your request satisfactorily you may initially complain to us and then to the Information Commissioner's Office. The Information Commissioner would expect you to have given the Council the opportunity to deal with your appeal prior to you contacting them. Please see guidance on the Freedom of Information Appeals page: http://www.newham.gov.uk/YourCouncil/Fre...

As with other local authorities, the number of enquiries has increased each year since the introduction of the Freedom of Information legislation. Therefore, to enable us to deal with your enquiry more efficiently, we have introduced an online form. We would ask that you submit all future requests via our online form:
https://forms.newham.gov.uk/AF3/an/defau...

In addition, you may find it useful to access the following link, where you can view our Publication Scheme, a list of previous requests and responses and/or use our E-Form should you wish to make further requests:
http://www.newham.gov.uk/YourCouncil/Fre...

Yours sincerely,

Information Governance
London Borough of Newham
Newham Dockside, 1000 Dockside Road, London E16 2QU
Tel: 020 8430 2000

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