The Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement programme (the programme) has performed well so far, providing support to some of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees. We commend the Home Office (the Department) and the other government departments, local authorities and delivery partners involved for their efforts and their achievements so far. After a concerted effort to resettle 1,000 refugees before Christmas 2015, the programme team sensibly took a step back in early 2016 to redesign a more sustainable programme. However, meeting the overall target, to resettle 20,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in the UK by May 2020, remains a significant challenge. Local authorities’ participation in the programme is voluntary and the success of the programme will depend on their statements of good intention translating into firm offers of places. The number of refugees in the programme is small compared to the total number of people local authorities support. But some local authorities are confused about what exactly it is they are expected to provide to refugees and have also expressed concerns about what programme funds will cover and what they will need to pay for out of their other budgets. Some refugees are uncertain about what they are entitled to, and what is expected of them, as part of the programme. It is not yet clear whether survivors of torture or violence are getting the specialist help they need to be able to come to terms with their experiences. While progress so far is certainly encouraging, it is essential that these issues are addressed to ensure the success of the programme in the long-term.
4 January 2017