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Local Authorities and landlords urged to step up with ‘final push’ to resettle Afghans who supported Britain

  • Minister for Veterans’ Affairs urges Councils to step up their efforts to ensure resettled Afghans find settled accommodation
  • Local officials urged to utilise extensive central government support in place
  • Calls reiterated for Afghans to access the specialist resettlement support available in hotels before access to bridging accommodation ends
  • Small number of time-limited contingency accommodation will be provided for bridging short gaps in accommodation and in cases of medical need

Local councils have been urged to step up efforts to provide permanent homes for the remaining Afghans who fled the Taliban and are currently living in temporary hotel accommodation, at a cost of around £1 million per day to taxpayers.

Speaking in Parliament today, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Johnny Mercer MP, called on local authorities to do everything they can to make use of the Government’s £285 million package of re-housing support.

The Minister previously fought multiple tours of Afghanistan and is now coordinating the Government’s resettlement support for Afghans who arrived under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) and Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS).

Landlords have also been asked to join a ‘national effort’ to support the resettlement scheme, including by offering accommodation through their local council or via the newly refreshed Afghanistan Housing Portal.

Afghans currently living in bridging accommodation are entitled to a range of support to find settled accommodation and have been urged to make use of the generous package available to local authorities. Having arrived in the UK through safe and legal routes, this cohort have indefinite leave to remain, the right to work, access to healthcare, and recourse to public funds.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Johnny Mercer said:

We owe a debt of gratitude to Afghans who have moved to the UK under our resettlement schemes.

But hotel accommodation must end – it’s unfair on the Afghans living in them, unable to put down more permanent roots, and it is unfair on the taxpayer, who is currently footing the bill.

To do this we’ve put in place extensive support, which local authorities can use in a variety of ways to support Afghans into permanent accommodation including funding for deposits, rent top ups and furniture, as well as bespoke advice from staff in hotels.

The UK welcomed over 21,000 Afghan nationals through its resettlement scheme following the withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.

Since then thousands of Afghan nationals have been living in hotel accommodation across the country. The hotel accommodation was never intended as a permanent solution and as well as the unsustainable cost to the taxpayer, they do not allow Afghan nationals to properly settle into communities.

To support the move into settled housing the government has committed £285 million in new funding, and case working teams have been deployed to every bridging hotel in the country to give advice and guidance to those looking for housing.

The funding package includes additional funding for Local Authorities, equivalent to £7100 per person. This funding is a significant commitment, and is given to Local Authorities as a flexible sum, giving them the power to decide where money is needed and spent, based on their expert knowledge on the ground.

The funding is already being used by some councils to help with deposits, furniture and rent, amongst other things, but LA engagement across the country has been inconsistent.

The Government has already helped move hundreds of Afghan nationals out of hotels, and into settled accommodation since the first legal notices to quit were issued in April this year.

Government has been clear that there is more to do, and is calling on landlords across the country to offer their housing, and give those who served alongside UK Armed Forces in Afghanistan a chance to settle down for a life here in the UK.

The Minister also emphasised the need for those currently living in bridging accommodation to take responsibility for their search to find housing, as is the case for people across the country. The Government is providing extensive support to do this, including a dedicated housing portal and tailored information on how to find your own accommodation and financial support.

There will be a small number of Afghans for whom time-limited contingency accommodation will be provided. This includes where there is a need to bridge a short gap between the end of notice periods and pre-matched settled accommodation being ready for them to move into, and in cases of medical need where a family member requires continued attendance at a specific hospital.  Local Authorities will support this process.

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