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City Pledges To Take More Asylum Seekers 

Coventry is to take in more than 650 new asylum seekers over the next year as part of a national scheme to spread the people in need around evenly.

The city council must spend up to £314,000 to help pay for the asylum seekers’ accommodation in the first year of a new dispersal system run by the National Asylum Support Service, but will get the money back next year.

This was set up after local authorities in some parts of the country were overwhelmed by the number of people arriving in their area and looking for help and started sending them wherever in the country they could that had space to take them.

Coventry currently has direct responsibility for 137 asylum seekers, and another 1,600 are living in the city but are paid for by social services departments in other parts of the country.

Under a new contact, the city will provide another 237 units of accommodation in the forthcoming year. This is expected to be split between families and individuals at a ratio of 60 per cent to 40 per cent.

Cllr Phil Townshend told yesterday’s cabinet meeting that no Coventry families would lose out through this arrangement.

He said that the vast majority of asylum seekers were not living in council houses. New families will go into some of the houses, now run by Whitefriars, in parts of the city that are hard to let.

Cllr Townshend praised the efforts of a multi-agency task force set up in Coventry to try and co-ordinate better support for the asylum seekers.

But Cllr Dave Nellist (Socialist, St Michael’s), said he was concerned that the people moved to Coventry from London and Kent were not getting the help they needed because no-one in the city knew exactly where they were or what support they were receiving.

He added that placing the responsibility of care on private landlord used by the other authorities to house the asylum seekers was fraught with danger, as they were not trained in these matters.

He said:

“It’s my fear that in some of these cases we have lost the ability to monitor and control the standard in which some of these families are living.”

Bal Chohan of the social services department said it was a problem, but a database was being set up to log families’ whereabouts.

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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 12 Oct 00
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