Syrian Refugee Crisis

Statement by Council Leader Keith House

Page last updated at 19 October 2015 at 13:55

Council Leader Keith House, said: “ The Council is waiting to hear how it can play its part in helping to house some of the 20,000 Syrian refugees that the Prime Minister has said will arrive in Britain over the next four years. 

The latest information we have is that in Hampshire the County’s Emergency Planning Officer is to take the lead in working with the Home Office.  Very few refugees have arrived in the UK yet, but it is expected that numbers, working with the United Nations Agency in Syria, will start to accelerate from January 2016.  It appears likely that areas that have over the years worked to accommodate refugees most regularly, including parts of London and northern towns, will take most refugees. 

Councils are still being asked to help.  Locally, Southampton has taken a lead in stating it will provide for 25 families.  Portsmouth has said it does not wish to help.  It is somewhat harder for two-tier areas, especially those where the district council does not own its own housing stock, to address this issue. 

Bluntly, is the lead with the County as the Adult and Childrens’ Services authority, or the district as the Housing authority?  I am clear that we should not be ducking this issue.  It seems at the moment that the most effective way forward is to work with Southampton.  In practice given how housing funding works if we were to offer to help with places here from Eastleigh, refugee families would be housed in Southampton regardless of our offer.  But we will keep closely in touch with this issue as the government clarifies its position and if and when we can play a constructive part, we will do so.”