Sheffield Council is to increase the amount of refugees it resettles by almost 50 per cent after a request from the Home Office.
The city, along with Hull, is part of the national Gateway Protection Programme where 90 refugees are being resettled in each location from April 2015 to March 2016, with costs for the first year covered by the Government.
The programme aims to help refugees, often fleeing persecution, violence and conflict, to rebuild their lives in safety and around 80,000 refugees are resettled each year.
A report to Sheffield Council shows the Home Office has asked to increase the number of refugeees aided from 180 to between 200 and 2020 – but Hull City Council is ‘not able to increase their numbers’.
The report, which was agreed, recommended Sheffield increases the number of refugees it settles to a maximum of 130.
“Sheffield was the first City of Sanctuary and as a city is proud to welcome asylum seekers and refugees into its neighbourhoods,” said the report.
“Continued involvement with the Gateway Protection Programme supports this commitment and is a clear signal Sheffield intends to be a place of safety for those fleeing persecution.”
Sheffield was the first local authority to welcome Gateway refugees with a group of Liberians when the programme was launched in the UK in 2004.
Since then refugees from Burma, Congo, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and Bhutan have also been supported nationally.
The report said other councils now looked to Sheffield for guidance and to share experiences of the success of the programme. It said refugees had settled and integrated well in Sheffield.
Some of the refugees resettled in Sheffield have gone to form community groups, to study at university, work or volunteer, including supporting newer cohorts.
The Gateway programme is fully funded by the Home Office for 12 months after refugees arrive. They are supported to become ‘fully independent’ and support from the city council and Refugee Council is tapered.
The report said grant income from the Home Office would be ‘sufficient’ to meet costs of extra refugees and up to £293,355 would be claimed.
For the first time the city council is also incurring adult social care costs after 12 month funding ended, of £24,250 for two families.