The Home Office has announced that the Scottish Borders will receive a generous funding package to support the resettlement of families who have come to the UK having been at risk in Afghanistan.
Councils who support people through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) or Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme will receive £20,520 per person, over three years, for resettlement and integration costs.
This is based on the previous Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, in which the Scottish Borders welcomed around 10 families.
In addition to this, local councils will also receive up to £4,500 per child for education, £850 to cover English language provision for adults and £2,600 to cover healthcare.
A further £20m of flexible funding will be made available to support local authorities with higher cost bases with any additional costs in the provision of services.
In addition, the previously announced Afghan Housing Costs Fund will increase from £5m to £17m and run for two extra years to help local authorities provide housing and give certainty that funding will be available in the future.
John Lamont MP said:
“We have just witnessed one of the most complex evacuations in history and helped thousands of people in Afghanistan reach safety here in the UK.
“I am proud that the Scottish Borders will be playing its part in welcoming these Afghans to our shores. Many of those coming to live here served alongside our British Armed Forces and others are fleeing a country which no longer supports women’s rights, freedom of speech and our democratic values.
“This funding from the Home Office will reduce any pressure on local council budgets ensuring that the Scottish Borders Council budget can continue to be spent on local priorities.
“The UK has a proud history of providing safe haven to those fleeing persecution. I praise the great work of Cllr Haslam and her team in acting so fast to welcome Afghans to our area.”
Leader of Scottish Borders Council, Cllr Shona Haslam, added:
“I’m proud of the mammoth effort taking place at Scottish Borders Council, and in our communities, to provide a warm welcome to those fleeing the hard-line Taliban regime.
“This UK Government funding will be key in ensuring that we can properly look after Afghan refugees without providing an undue strain on our already tight council budget.
“I have been in contact with UK Government ministers since the crisis in Kabul began and I am proud to be one of the first councils to sign up to the scheme.
“The sickening ideology of the Taliban treats women as second-class citizens. It is vital as a country that the UK stands up for Afghan women’s rights by providing safe haven for them on our shores.”