Lincolnshire councillors today discussed an offer of sanctuary for refugees fleeing Syria, with the county expecting to house around 200 people over the next five years.
Proposals over Lincolnshire County Council’s role in supporting refugees in the developing humanitarian crisis were tabled at a meeting of the council’s executive members on Friday, September 18.
After overwhelming pressure, Prime Minister David Cameron agreed at the beginning of the month to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years.
Council officials across the country have already made commitments of sanctuary, but until now no details of Lincolnshire’s refugee plans has been made public.
A motion moved by Leader of the Labour Group on Lincolnshire County Council John Hough ahead of the meeting, sought a public commitment from the county to welcome refugees and proved a ‘safe haven’ for them.
The matter, along with a number of concerns, was said at the meeting to have been addressed with the council by Home Office representatives, who have signalled the county would resettle 200 refugees over five years.
The government came under some criticism over its funding support offer, primarily as the scheme will only cover the first year of costs for matters including schooling and benefits.
Councillor Peter Robinson said: “Funding would be met in the first year by government, but then by local authorities.
“There would be a cost in supporting children of around £50,000 per child per year, and that would be maintained until they are at least 25.
“No doubt Lincolnshire will have a big part to play.”
Leader of the county council Martin Hill said: “The Local Government Association is working hard to get central government to extend commitment from the foreign aid budget for one year. It’s not been publicly stated what will hapen beyond five years.
“The county would help vulnerable people who are in camps in Syria. Unaccompanied children under the scheme would be supported until the age of 25, which would be a cost to the county.
“I suggest that we would support the LGA in its case. We will all have to play a part.”
Councillor Marc Jones added: “We have a duty to protect people of Lincolnshire and a duty to protect people in the country. I hope we will all work together to protect residents.
“There is concern for all of us to make sure people that settle are genuinely of refugee status and vulnerable.
“We will do everything to make sure people of our county are protected from cost and risk of people not being of true refugee status.”