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[22 SEP 00] COVENTRY CITY COUNCIL NEWS
Asylum Seekers: The Facts
BY ANTONY HOPKER

The arrival of 700 more asylum seekers in Coventry will not affect council house waiting lists or cost the city any money.

When the new arrivals come it will bring the number of asylum seekers in Coventry to about 2,700.

Of nearly 2,000 people currently in the city, Coventry City Council has direct responsibility for 137, while another 157 come under the control of a national scheme.

1,600 come under the control of Warwickshire County Council or local authorities in London and the South East.

The asylum-seekers are moved to Coventry from areas that cannot cope with putting any more people up.

Cllr Phil Townshend, cabinet member in charge of asylum seekers, said that there would not be any impact on council waiting lists.

He said there were 1,600 empty properties in areas where it was difficult to find tenants.

Although the waiting list has about 10,500 people on it, with several thousands more wanting a transfer, people were reluctant to take houses in certain areas on, and the asylum seekers were being moved there.

Under new rules introduced this year, asylum-seekers get 70 per cent of income support, and most of that comes in vouchers. They also get their accommodation paid for.

Schools get £500 per pupil taken on in a grant from the DfEE, and the council gets the money for looking after the asylum seekers from the government.

Cllr Townshend said the council was having to pay £210,000 in the short-term, but this money would be claimed back in time.

During the summer months, about 200 people were arriving in Coventry each month.

Cllr Rob Windsor (Socialist, St Michaelís) said one of the difficulties faced was that the asylum-seekers under the responsibility of other local authorities were not always cared for.

They found it difficult to get access to support and advice, as well as health services and education.

Cllr Townshend said:

ďOne of the things Iíve asked to be done is to build up a database of all the asylum seekers.

ďIf we donít know they are here how can we be sure that they are OK?Ē

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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 22 Sep 00

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