Lancaster set to take in Syrian refugees

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Up to 500 Syrian refugees would be accepted across Lancashire under new proposals, with the Lancaster district expected to cater for 10 new families over five years.

Councillors will discuss the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program at a meeting on February 16, with officers recommending that the intake should be delayed until April 2017.

Officers say the private rental market in Lancaster is already under additional strain due to the December floods.

Lancaster City Council received a letter from the government in November outlining the funding available for the program.

This amounts to £5,000 per head tapering to £1,000 by the fifth year.

The report to the council outlines a number of issues including that there is no cast iron guarantee that full costs will be met, but that it’s likely the majority of the costs will fall to county council or health services such as education, English language support, support into employment, social care, and medical care costs. It also said that recent central government housing policy means that the council’s housing stock will continue to reduce over the next few years, leading to added strain in keeping up with demand for social housing. There are currently around 2.000 applicants for council housing stock.

The report stated: “Giving priority to house refugees in council housing would therefore mean that a local citizen may have to wait longer to berehoused.” Lancaster City Council received its first asylum seekers into the district, part of the national asylum seeker dispersal programme, last month. Councillors will make a decision on whether to agree to the programme from April 2016 onwards, delay participation until April 2017, or not participate at all.