Sheffield MP demands ‘clear answers’ on who will foot the bill for Syrian refugee arrivals

Clive Betts MP
Clive Betts MP
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Sheffield MP Clive Betts has called on the Government to provide ‘clear answers’ on who will foot the bill for local councils taking in Syrian refugees.

Mr Betts, writing in his role as chairman of the Communities and Local Government Committee, said there is confusion about how long financial support will be provided for to local authorities.

A group of Syrians, Afghans and Palestinians has just arrived to the coast of Lesvos. Greece, September 7, 2015. Photo by Anna Pantelia/Depo Photos/ABACAPRESS.COM

A group of Syrians, Afghans and Palestinians has just arrived to the coast of Lesvos. Greece, September 7, 2015. Photo by Anna Pantelia/Depo Photos/ABACAPRESS.COM

It comes after Sheffield Council agreed to take in an initial 10 to 15 families from Syria.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to take 20,000 Syrians by 2020.

At a meeting of the CLG committee in September, Secretary of State Greg Clark said Syrian refugees would be given at least a five-year period of stay in this country.

A statement by the CLG committee said Mr Clark had ‘seemed to suggest Government help with the extra costs faced by local authorities would run for at least the first five years’.

But the next day, Home Secretary Theresa May told the House of Commons that Government funding was only guaranteed for the first year.

Mr Betts said: “The refugee crisis is an urgent problem and the Government needs to spell out far more clearly what support they are going to provide to local authorities who will bear the additional schooling, healthcare and housing costs.

“The Government has made a commitment to take in 20,000 Syrian refugees and ministers should match this with a promise to cover the full costs incurred by local councils - not just for the first year—to deliver this national policy.

“If the Government fails to make this funding commitment, the Government is in effect saying to communities, ‘Welcome refugees now, but you will pay the full cost in the future in cuts to your services for funding the refugees coming to your communities’. ”

A Department of Communities and Local Government spokesman said they would be providing Mr Betts with an official response in ‘due course’.