‘Plaid Cymru-led councils have a proud record of supporting refugees and stand ready to assist once again.’
UK Government must provide urgent clarity on funding for local authorities to welcome Afghan refugees
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, and spokesperson on Finance and Local Government, Llŷr Gruffydd MS have today written to the Home Secretary Priti Patel to call for “urgent clarity” on the funding available to Welsh local authorities to house people fleeing persecution in Afghanistan.
The UK Government announced on 18 August that the UK could resettle up to 20,000 Afghan refugees over the next 5 years, with 5,000 in the first year. Plaid Cymru say that this 5,000 cap in the first year is “arbitrary and insufficient given the scale of the refugee crisis we are facing”. They are calling for local authorities to be given increased financial support to house as many vulnerable people as possible.
The Home Office published funding instruction on 24 July 2021 for Afghan Locally Engaged Staff Ex Gratia & Afghan Relocation and Assistance Schemes. However, the Plaid Cymru politicians say that it is unclear whether additional support will be provided following Wednesday’s announcement.
Liz Saville Roberts and Llŷr Gruffydd write:
“The UK Government has a practical and moral responsibility to the people of Afghanistan. The 5,000 cap on refugees to the UK this year – when the danger is at its greatest – is arbitrary and insufficient given the scale of the refugee crisis we are facing. It will be a mark of shame if our humanitarian response doesn’t meet the scale of the challenge.
“Communities across Wales have given a clear message in recent days – we expect to play a full role in welcoming Afghan refugees. Plaid Cymru-led councils have a proud record of supporting refugees and stand ready to assist once again. Indeed, Wales is committed to being a Nation of Sanctuary, and councils across Wales are ready to provide support and co-operation.
“A decade of brutal austerity imposed by UK Government and its repercussions on Wales has ripped the heart out of public services. Additional resources are required now more than ever.
“We note the funding instruction published on 24 July 2021 for Afghan Locally Engaged Staff Ex Gratia & Afghan Relocation and Assistance Schemes. However, given the announcement of the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme on 18 August, further information is urgently needed so that local authorities can commit to playing the fullest possible role.
“Now is not the time to turn our backs on those in need and those who are prepared to provide safe shelter. We therefore urge you to: Give urgent clarity to Welsh local authorities on the amount of money that will be made available to them under the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme for (a) 2021-22, and (b) for the next five years; ensure funding is available for local authorities to adapt private rental properties; ensure that Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme is sufficient and compassionate to those fleeing persecution; provide a timetable for the resettlement of Afghan refugees as soon as possible.”