New homes deal for 20 asylum seekers

Crisis: Migrants, including refugees from Syria, arrive at the Hungarian border
Crisis: Migrants, including refugees from Syria, arrive at the Hungarian border

Twenty asylum seekers will be housed in fives homes in Longridge and Clitheroe.

Ribble Valley borough council voted to take part in the national scheme for housing of asylum seekers, and pledged to provide five homes in the borough.

At last Thursday’s meeting, the committee agreed that the borough council should be included in the Asylum Seeker Dispersal Programme.

It would work with government body SERCO to deliver a maximum of five units in Longridge and Clitheroe.

And it also would be a pilot scheme and would be reviewed within six months of the first occupation.

It was also agreed at the meeting that approval of the properties in the scheme, plus feedback on them and their monitoring, would be dealt with by the Strategic Housing Working Group.

The decision on the special provision follows the borough being asked in July to meet the North West Strategic Migration Partnership (RSMP) and discuss the borough being included in the asylumn dispersal programme.

Home office and RSMP representatives Helen Earner and Katy Wood met borough members to explain that accommodation and support for asylum seekers and their families was given whilst their cases were processed and determined.

The contract to supply the properties in the north west has been awarded to SERCO

It will aim to find private rented accommodation through a five-year arrangement with private landlords.

The government will also provide financial support for essential needs like food and clothing, as asylum seekers are not allowed to work or claim mainstream welfare benefits. They must, however, meet other criteria before being eligible for housing and, if unaccompanied, be over 18 years old.

After another Home Office and RSMP meeting with the borough in August, it was stated that seekers would be in shared houses or a flat.

They would also be given bedding and kitchen equipment, furniture and cooking and washing facilities.

SERCO is also operating in Preston City Council and has approval to secure 30 properties after establishing a multi agency forum which is attended by the police, fire service, health and third sector.