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Vulnerable Syrian Families

Volume 620: debated on Monday 23 January 2017

The resettlement programme is on track to deliver the commitment to resettle 20,000 vulnerable Syrians during this Parliament. Between the start of October 2015 and the end of September 2016, 4,162 people have been resettled under the Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement scheme across 175 different local authorities.

My constituents have been deeply moved by the refugee crisis and have asked me what they can do to help. I welcome the launch last year of the community sponsorship scheme. Will my hon. Friend update the House on the scheme’s progress and what more he is doing to harness the generosity of the British people?

The community sponsorship scheme was launched on 19 July 2016. The scheme embodies the commitment that the Prime Minister made when she was Home Secretary to allow individuals, charities, faith groups, churches and businesses to support refugees. My hon. Friend’s constituents are, indeed, part of that generous giving, because they want to help some very vulnerable people. A “help refugees in the UK” webpage has been developed to make it easier for any member of the public to support refugees in the UK, and to allow local authorities to focus support on the goods and services that refugees need.

19. Those from Syria and elsewhere who are granted refugee status can apply for immediate family members to join them here. Since the Home Office stopped funding DNA tests for such relatives, refusals from many countries have shot up. By what date will the Home Office review on this matter have been completed and published? (908296)

The hon. Gentleman makes some valid points. I will come back to him with the exact details of the timescale, and I will help to inform him about refugees from further afield than just Syria on that scheme.

Will the Minister congratulate councils such as Kingston Council that have come forward to host vulnerable Syrian refugees, and also the families who have done so? Will he explain that it is still the case that refugees require individual housing, rather than joining a family in an existing house, for very good reasons? Lots of these people are victims of the most terrible atrocities.

My hon. Friend makes an important point. It is important, if this scheme is to work, that people do come forward. Many local authorities and, indeed, the Scottish Government have been incredibly generous in offering support and holding out the hand of friendship. We do need more, and we need more community groups to come through. I warn hon. Members that when charities and the third sector come forward, we do the correct due diligence to enable us to ensure that very vulnerable people are given exactly the support that they need, to make sure that the scheme is sustainable.