On 28th October the Bishop of Durham received a written answer to four questions on refugee resettlement:
The Lord Bishop of Durham:
(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 5 October (HL Deb, col 407), whether they have revised their aim of resettling 5,000 refugees in 2020/21 under the UK’s new resettlement scheme as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic; and, if so, what is the revised aim for resettlement this year. [HL9220]
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Williams of Trafford on 14 September (HL7752), what discussions they have held with local authorities about their capacity to restart refugee resettlement as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic; and whether any local authorities have confirmed that they are ready to restart resettlement. [HL9221]
(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the final 232 refugees within the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme will be resettled in the UK when it is safe to do so. [HL9222]
(iv) To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will announce their long term refugee resettlement commitment beyond 2021. [HL9223]
Baroness Williams of Trafford: The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those who need it and our refugee resettlement schemes enable us to give the opportunity of a new start to those who have been forced to flee their homes.
In June 2019, the Government reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to refugee resettlement by announcing a new, global UK Resettlement Scheme. While we hoped to have both met our commitment to resettle 20,000 vulnerable refugees through the VPRS, and started the new scheme earlier this year, the unprecedented restrictions and pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has meant this has not yet been possible. We continue to evaluate how to respond to these ongoing restrictions and pressures, but we expect to resume refugee resettlement activity when safe to do so.
We maintain regular dialogue with a variety of resettlement stakeholders, including local authorities, Strategic Migration Partnerships and other support providers. To date, our resettlement schemes have been supported by over 300 local authorities across the UK, and we are extremely grateful for this support.
Ultimately the number of refugees we resettle every year depends on a variety of factors including local authorities’ capacity for supporting refugees and the extent to which Community Sponsorship continues to thrive. We look forward to working with local communities to welcome more of those in need in the years to come.