£200m for inclusion programmes to support Afghan refugee resettlement
Building on the £5m funding for local authorities to resettle Afghan refugees announced yesterday, the Government has outlined further funding and support as part of a cross-government effort is underway, dubbed ‘Operation Warm Welcome’.
£200 million has been committed to meet the cost of the first year of the Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme, which aims to welcome up to 20,000 Afghans.
To give children and young adults the best start in life the government is making at least £12 million available to prioritise additional school places so children can be enrolled as soon as possible, and to provide school transport, specialist teachers and English language support to assist with learning.
The support for Afghan arrivals now includes:
- £3 million of additional NHS funding so that Afghans arriving under the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme can access healthcare and register with a GP once they leave quarantine;
- all are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine and so far more than 700 arrivals under the ARAP scheme have left quarantine and received their first vaccination, with more leaving and receiving a jab each day;
- £5 million funding for councils in England, Wales and Scotland to support Afghans coming to the UK via the ARAP scheme and provide a top up to help meet the costs of renting properties;
- the government is already working with more than 100 councils across the UK to meet the demand for housing, with over 2,000 places already confirmed;
- the Communities Secretary will convene a roundtable with council leaders from across the country in the coming days;
- to harness the generosity of the British public and make sure those who want to help know where to turn we will launch an online portal to allow people to submit offers of support for people arriving from Afghanistan;
- this portal is already available to submit offers of housing and work is now underway to expand this to further offers, such as job opportunities, professional skills training or donations of items like clothes or toys
Further funding will be provided for up to 300 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships for Afghans at UK universities and adults will also be able to access English language courses free of charge. While many will speak English through their work with the UK Government and British Forces, and as translators, language classes will ensure all their family members can fully integrate into their local communities.
Families who need support navigating the system will also have access to liaison officers who can work with local authorities to help them get set up with a GP, National Insurance number, school place, accommodation and more tailored support, as required.
"As part of the New Plan for Immigration, I committed to providing refugees who make their home here the ability to rebuild their lives in the UK with essential support to integrate into the community, learn English, and become self-sufficient," said Home Secretary Priti Patel. "By providing immediate indefinite leave to remain we are ensuring that those who have fled their homes have every opportunity to look to the future with stability and security and make a success of their new life in the UK."
Those coming to the UK through resettlement routes would receive immediate indefinite leave to remain, and today the Home Secretary has announced that this will apply to Afghans who worked closely with the British military and UK Government in Afghanistan, and risked their lives in doing so, meaning they can now stay in the UK without any time restrictions.
People already relocated to the UK under the Afghanistan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) will be able to apply free of charge to convert their temporary leave into indefinite leave. This will give Afghans the certainty and stability to rebuild their lives with unrestricted rights to work and the option to apply for British citizenship in the future.