Falkirk Council has the chance to cement its commitment to refugees
Members of Falkirk Council’s executive will decide whether the local authority will continue to participate in current and future refugee resettlement schemes.
Tuesday’s meeting will see members discussing an update on the council’s participation in the UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS) and the Scottish Government’s Ending Destitution Together strategy.
It will also present them with an opportunity to make the local authority’s current resettlement team a permanent service.
The chance to show commitment to the resettlement scheme comes in the wake of UK Home Secretary Priti Patel claiming Scottish councils were not “pulling their weight” in terms of helping refugees.
The executive report states the Falkirk Council resettlement team, consisting of a resettlement officer and a resettlement support worker, has resettled 12 families – a total of 56 people – so far.
At present the resettlement workers are only on temporary contracts, which come to an end in March 2022.
The report recommends executive members agree to make these posts permanent and embed them into the housing and communities service staffing structure.
Additional staffing resources are also required to meet the increased demands of the Scottish Government’s Ending Destitution Strategy, so the report proposes the resettlement team expands to include one temporary additional support worker.
It states: “This expanded resettlement team will support the Ending Destitution Strategy, by supporting those resettling through the official UK Resettlement Scheme, and any future calls from the Home Office to assist in a global crisis.
"We have committed to resettling 15 individuals within 2021/22 and would anticipate continuing to support this scheme at this level in the future.”
Falkirk Council currently receives a budget from the Home Office for each individual through the UKRS arrangements.
Additional funding is paid to cover school education costs. There is also funding which the council can apply for to cover excess English language training for adults.
NHS Forth Valley is paid separately by the Home Office to cover additional health costs.
Staff and overhead costs incurred in running the resettlement schemes in Falkirk are met through the funding from the Home Office.
The report states: “Should the Home Office grant funding cease and should Falkirk Council continue to accept refugees, staffing costs of around £87,000 per year would be required from an even split between the Housing Revenue Account and the Housing General Fund.”