110 Afghan refugees set to be settled in Birmingham each year

Hundreds of Afghan refugees could be set to arrive in Birmingham as part of a new settlement scheme, it has been revealed.

Many people have tried to leave Afghanistan since the Taliban took over
Many people have tried to leave Afghanistan since the Taliban took over

And it will cost the council around £1.6 million per year.

The council is expected to sign up to a new agreement which commits it to taking 110 Afghan refugees per year for at least the next two years, and potentially the next four.

Due to go before the council’s cabinet next week, papers detail a request from the government for the council to extend the current Afghan Relocation & Assistance Policy which has already seen it take in 80 Afghan refugees so far this year.

“The request by the Home Office is for local government to commit to welcome Afghan families under the updated Afghan Relocation & Assistance Policy (ARAP) and the new Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) over the next few years,” papers note.

“The request is made in the light of the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and the evacuation of many Afghans to the UK that took place over summer 2021.

“In July 2021, following Government’s original request made in May, cabinet approved a decision to welcome 80 individuals under the initial Afghan Assistance and Relocation Policy in 2021/22 (“phase one”).

“This report requests authorisation for Birmingham City Council to extend the initial commitment in the following ways (“phase two”):

  • To resettle 110 individuals per year, for the period(s) 2022/23 and 2023/24;

  • To delegate a decision to the Cabinet Member(s) for Social Inclusion, Community Safety & Equalities to continue to resettle refugees under these schemes at this same rate (110 individuals per year) for up to a further two years (2024/25 and 2025/26)

“In addition, the report requests authorisation for delegated officer authority to procure services in order to support individuals arriving via these schemes over their first 12 months residence in the UK, to an estimated maximum value of £1,595,227.”

The new scheme would prioritise resettlement for "those who have assisted UK efforts in Afghanistan, e.g. by standing up for values such as democracy, women’s rights and freedom of speech," and vulnerable people, including women and girls at risk, and members of minority groups at risk (including ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT+).

Refugees arriving under the scheme would have indefinite leave to remain and access to public funds, the papers continue, while they would be housed in either the private rented sector or ‘hard-to-let’ properties from registered providers.

And the total cost of the scheme across the next four years is also laid out in the papers, with just shy of £5.5 million being allocated until the end of the 2025/26 financial year.

The papers will be discussed by Cabinet on Tuesday.

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