Borders refugee scheme prioritises most vulnerable

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“This isn’t the time for grandstanding – to fail these people is not an option.”

So said Councillor John Greenwell, Scottish Borders Council’s equalities and diversities champion, urging colleagues to support arrangements allowing 10 families of Syrian refugees to be resettled in the region over the next four years.

The council agreed last week to participate in the UK-wide Syrian Vulnerable Person Scheme for refugees in camps near their country.

Councillor Frances Renton, executive member for social work, commended the scheme which prioritises women and children at risk, those in need of care and the survivors of violence.

“Unlike some other local authorities in Scotland, this council has no experience of re-settling refugees so I am proud of the work which our officers, working with other agencies, have achieved in a short time,” she said.

And she added offers of help and assistance from the Borders public had been “gratefully received”.

Councillors heard resettlement cases would be screened in the camps by the Home Office with the right to reject “on security, war crimes or other grounds”.

A report indicated the first year costs of resettlement for all the families coming to the Borders will be met by the Home Office.

It is anticipated SBC will receive £8,520 for each refugee to cover housing, cultural integration and the running of the scheme.

In addition, £4,500 will be allocated for each child aged 5-18 and £2,250 for each child aged 3-4 to cover education costs, with an extra £1,000 for each child with special educational needs.

The package assumes £2,200 per refugee for first year medical care and £12,700 in “DWP benefits” for one adult per family.