Agenda item 3 - Refugee support

Chief Executives' Group - North Yorkshire and York

17 June 2022

Refugee support 


1. Purpose of report.

1.1 To provide a brief overview of the refugee support schemes operating locally, both those delivered by councils with the support of local partners (in particular the NHS, voluntary organisations and police) and those delivered by the Home Office and its contractors.


2. Locally managed delivery.

2.1 Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme – resettlement for refugees from the conflict in Syria; vulnerable people identified by UNHCR and the Home Office from refugee camps neighbouring Syria.  Started 2015.  North Yorkshire has welcomed 238 people (50 families) for permanent resettlement and York has welcomed 91 people.  All have completed their five-year support period or are in their fifth year.  The retention rate of families staying in the county is in the region of 90%.

2.2 UK Resettlement Scheme – resettlement for refugees from conflicts in Syria and the wider region; vulnerable people identified by UNHCR and the Home Office from refugee camps in the wider region.  Started 2020.  North Yorkshire has welcomed 89 people (22 families) for permanent resettlement to date and is committed to welcome further families between now and February 2023, subject to property availability, with the intention of resettling 200 people in total by 2024.  York has welcomed 12 people to date.

2.3 Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy – resettlement for people from Afghanistan who worked for the UK government and military.  North Yorkshire has welcomed 122 people (25 families) for permanent resettlement to date, with one more family to arrive shortly completing the target to resettle 125 people in total by 2022.  York has welcomed two families to date.

2.4 Homes for Ukraine – allows UK people (sponsors) to offer accommodation to Ukrainians (guests) in their own homes or other property, initially for six months.  Started March 2022. 

Sponsors have to ‘find’ their own guests, which is a frustrating and inefficient process, and risks exploitation.  Councils have to check housing and undertake DBS checks on sponsors, although Home Office does not consider these checks when issuing visas.  Councils have to link guests to other support (eg schools, benefit claims etc), make initial cash payments to tide them over until benefit claims are paid, and pay sponsors £350 a month thank you payments.  Councils also have to provide support (including homelessness support) if sponsors are unsuitable or sponsorship breaks down. 

There have been a small number of circumstances where the sponsors and/or housing are unsuitable.  More challengingly, there are a small but growing number of circumstances where sponsors want to withdraw prematurely because their circumstances have changed or they had not properly considered the impact of hosting guests, or where there is a breakdown in relationships between the sponsors and guests.

Councils are reliant on sponsors telling us when guests arrive.  In North Yorkshire around 500 guests (around 200 households) have arrived.  In York around 180 guests have arrived.  Numbers are still increasing and there is no national or local target or maximum number.

2.5 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children – children and young people who are seeking asylum in the UK who have been separated from their parents or carers.  Councils with responsibility for children’s services have a responsibility to support those in their area, including those transferred into their area on the National Transfer Scheme from areas with high numbers of arrivals. 


3. Home Office managed programmes with very small numbers of people in the county.

3.1 Ukraine Family Visa Scheme – this allows Ukrainians to join family members who were in the UK before the conflict started.  Councils are not informed about arrivals and are not funded to provide support, but have to provide homelessness support if the housing is unsuitable or the relationship breaks down.

3.2 Community Sponsorship – community groups can apply to Home Office to sponsor a family who meets the criteria for the UK Resettlement Scheme.  The community group has to find the housing, raise at least £9k to cover costs and provide support for at least a year.  Councils have to step in if the sponsorship fails, but this is low risk as the Home Office requires significant preparation and prior approval from councils.  Three approved community groups in North Yorkshire, each with one refugee family. 

3.3 Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa – a welcome programme to support integration of the new arrivals from Hong Kong.  Limited role, data and funding for councils focused on English language tuition and destitution. 


4. Home Office managed programmes delivered by Home Office contractors.  Councils, the NHS, voluntary organisations and the police may be required to provide some support to people in some of these programmes.

4.1 Afghan bridging hotels – two hotels (Scarborough district and Selby district) temporarily housing people from Afghanistan until permanent resettlement accommodation can be found in other parts of the country. 

4.2 Initial Asylum Contingency Accommodation – one hotel (Scarborough district) temporarily housing people applying for refugee status (family groups) until dispersed accommodation can be found in other parts of the country. 

4.3 Linton asylum accommodation – the Home Office is considering opening a facility at Linton for people seeking asylum that will provide basic accommodation and reduce the need for the Home Office to use hotels for accommodation.

4.4 Asylum dispersal scheme – the Home Office is proposing to extend this scheme, which transfers people from areas with high numbers of arrivals, to include all local authority areas within Great Britain.  Home Office contractors will secure and manage accommodation (both groups of family homes and larger establishments).


Neil Irving
Assistant Director (Policy, Partnerships and Communities)
North Yorkshire County Council

7 June 2022