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Hundreds More Refugees Heading This Way

More than 1,000 asylum seekers are due to set up home in Coventry and Warwickshire to relieve overstretched areas of the south east.

And that could mean local people on council house lists having to wait a bit longer while homes are given to people fleeing war and distress in parts of eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Councils have been told to make way for the new arrivals, with 237 homes in Coventry and another 167 in Warwickshire being required under a regional plan. Some will be for families and others for single occupants.

It is thought there are 2,000 asylum seekers in Coventry and Warwickshire and this could add another 1,000.

It would mean local councils entering into a contract with Government for the homing of asylum seekers in each area.

Although this is voluntary, a council not taking part could see another body taking on their job in their area. And the Government has threatened to eventually force councils to sign up if they do not volunteer initially.

Councils will be paid for taking on the asylum seekers, who are being moved from southern cities and coastal ports, which have suffered social problems and local unrest after many asylum seekers moved in.

Most councils in the West Midlands are part of a regional consortium that is dealing with the Dispersal Programme.

But officers fear this could lengthen waiting lists and also the reaction of local people already on the list in each of the council area.

It is likely that the National Asylum Support Service will take over the responsibility for asylum seekers already in the UK, leaving social services to deal with the new arrivals. 

The NASS will pay local councils and landlords to get the homes ready and make regular payments.

Tom Cudlip, director of housing and environmental health at Rugby Borough Council, said:

“It is important that the council plays a part in the relocation programme. The Home Offices has advised it will use reserve powers to compel councils to accommodate asylum seekers if they don’t enter into the agreement voluntarily.

“Alternatively, NASS may contract with private sector agencies to rehouse asylum seekers in the borough. If this happens, the council will not be able to manage the process.

“While it is right and proper that the council is seen to be helping and acting in partnership, there is a danger that for small local authorities the continuing demands to rehouse asylum seekers may have a detrimental effect on the waiting list and consequently the housing of local people.”

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CWN / Politics / Rugby Borough Council / 01 Sep 00

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