More Syrian refugees need rehoming by councils each and every month if UK is to hit 20,000 target, new report finds

More Syrian refugees will need to be found new home sin the UK each and every month if the UK Government is to hit its target of rehoming 20,000 by May 2020 the National Audit Office has announced today, Tuesday September 13.

The programme to resettle vulnerable Syrian refugees in the UK was successfully expanded at speed in order to reach an interim target to resettle 1,000 people by Christmas 2015, according to the National Audit Office, but the programme team will need to resettle more people each quarter than they have done so far in order to meet the overall target.

The programme team has secured enough indicative pledges from local authorities to meet the target, but it is essential that these pledges materialise into firm offers of support. The programme is only open to Syrian refugees registered in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey.

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But according to the NAO, the future of the programme could be put at risk by local authorities’ lack of suitable accommodation and school places.

The programme will need an estimated 4,930 houses or flats and an estimated 10,664 childcare and school places over its lifetime. Local authorities told the NAO that this was the main barrier to their participation in the programme in future.

The NAO found that in achieving the target to resettle 1,000 Syrian refugees by Christmas 2015 there was good partnership working across central and local government, strong working relationships with international partners and the goodwill and determination of all organisations involved. While local authorities have worked hard to provide resettlement places, they have not however always understood central government’s expectations of them after the first year of the programme.

Today’s report found that there is no estimate of the total cost of the programme to the UK. Costs fall to different central government departments and participating local authorities. Most of the costs of each refugee’s first year in the UK are covered by the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget.

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This changes in the second year, after which costs for health and education fall to the relevant department, as they do for all citizens. Based on departments’ assumptions about the characteristics of those entering the programme, the services or level of support they will require and unit costs, the NAO estimates the programme could cost the UK up to £1,112 million to the end of 2019-20 and up to £1,734 million over its lifetime.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said today: “The programme team achieved a great deal in a short amount of time, resettling much larger numbers of refugees than previous programmes, due in large part to the dedication and goodwill of those involved.

“The characteristics of the refugees arriving in the UK will become clearer over time. With this new information, the programme team must adapt budgets so that no organisation taking part in the programme struggles to participate effectively due to cost pressures.”


September 2015 - The month the then Prime Minister made a commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees through the programme by 2020

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248 - average number of Syrian refugees resettled in the UK each month between September 2015 and the end of March 2016

348 - average number of Syrian refugees resettled in the UK each month since the programme’s relaunch in April 2016

55% - percentage of people resettled in the UK through the programme who are survivors of torture and/or violence up to the end of June 2016

£421 million - total allocated from the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget to fund all refugees’ costs for their first year in the UK, up to 2021 (up from the initial budget of £404 million announced in the 2015 spending review)

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£126 million - total amount the Home Office will expects to give to local authorities up to 2020 as a contribution to their costs for refugees’ second to fifth years in the UK (down from the initial budget of £129 million announced in the 2015 spending review)