Councils work to bring refugees to East Devon

Thirty-seven households in East Devon have so far come forward to offer homes for Ukrainian refugees.

JOE IVES Exmouth Journal

East Devon District Council (EDDC) says its private housing team is undertaking property inspections and Devon County Council (DCC) is carrying out safeguarding checks.

Under the Government-run Homes for Ukraine scheme, upper-tier local authorities will be paid £10,500 for every Ukrainian refugee housed in their area, with a top-up to help support children’s education. Individuals who provide accommodation to Ukrainian refugees will be paid £350 per month for up to a year. Speaking at an EDDC cabinet meeting, John Golding, the council’s strategic lead for housing, health and the environment, said: “We are totally committed to playing our part in the scheme and are fully engaged in what is quite a rapidly developing project. “We are also appreciative of the generous offers from sponsors or host households that have come forward in East Devon to provide a home for people fleeing from the horrendous violence that we’ve been seeing in Ukraine.” Addressing cabinet, Trevor Leahong from the Ottery Refugee Response Group said his organisation was working to set up a local community support system to help arrivals. He also asked for an update on what EDDC was doing to help Afghan refugees, many of whom are still without homes after fleeing the Taliban last year.

Mr Golding said 55 Afghan refugees were still at a `bridging’ hotel in Exmouth, organised by the Home Office. He added: “Our housing responsibilities as a district council are pretty much limited to providing a safety net if arrangements fail in the bridging hotel. We work closely with Devon County Council, Exmouth Town Council and local voluntary community groups to settle Afghan evacuees into Exmouth. I think that’s gone particularly well.” However, EDDC has very few suitable properties and has directed the Home Office to housing association partners. Leader of the council Paul Arnott described the situation as ‘absolutely heartbreaking’. He said, despite EDDC’s own housing crisis and the long waiting lists for homes, ‘this council will do everything it can to help people from Ukraine and the existing and potentially future Afghan refugees’.