Derbyshire Dales councillors gave their unanimous support to ‘make progress’ in the resettlement of up to 50 Syrian refugee families across the county.
The Derbyshire Syrian VPR Partnership Group - made up of members from county council departments, district councils, clinical commissioning groups and the voluntary sector - have been considering a report into how the county can help with the refugee crisis.
The offer to Government, following Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement that the UK would accept 20,000 Syrian refugees, is for 50 families to be rehomed across the county over two intakes of 25, with eight in the Derbyshire Dales, focusing on areas with the greatest social rented properties in Matlock, Ashbourne, Wirksworth and Darley Dale.
However, three Derbyshire districts have declined to be involved at this time.
The minutes from the council meeting, which can be viewed online, state: “The Minister for Syrian Refugees, Richard Harrington MP, had contacted council leaders asking for their help and visited regions to reinforce the Government’s commitment to the programme; however it seemed very unlikely that Derbyshire Dales would be considered as an area for asylum seeker dispersal.”
According to the official Twitter account of Derbyshire Dales District Council, during the meeting it was ‘stressed’ that a lot of work had gone into ensuring spaces are available in surgeries and how there is no benefit system in Syria so the refugees have a ‘strong work ethic’. It was also stated how the programme will be entirely funded by the overseas aid budget, meaning that local taxes will not be used.
However, one of the most important ‘learning points’ from the first wave of authorities had been the need to adequately resource the coordinating and planning role.
The minutes state: “To that end Derbyshire County Council had asked partner agencies to contribute funding for two full time equivalent posts for the first six month posts as pump priming for the programme.
“It was proposed that Derbyshire Dales DC contributed £5,000 from the homelessness grant programme. Once refugees arrived in Derbyshire, funding to support them could be claimed from government and the programme team should quickly become self-funding.”