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A COUPLE of homes need to be found soon to accommodate asylum seekers in Blaenau Gwent.

The UK Government’s Home Office has called for assistance to accommodate asylum seekers arriving in the UK.

The accommodation is needed while applications for asylum are processed.

Next month the executive committee will decide whether or not to participating in the Widening Asylum Seeker Dispersal Scheme and help the Home Office and its contracted agent, Clearsprings Ready Homes find two properties in Blaenau Gwent.

At a meeting of the Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council Corporate  Overview scrutiny committee on Friday, October 22, councillors discussed the proposal.

Chris Hunt who is coordinating the work with UK Government’s Home Office for both Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen councils explained that increasing numbers of Asylum Seekers had put pressure on current “dispersal areas.”

Mr Hunt said: “In response the Home Office are keen to widen the dispersal but emphasise that the preferred approach is to work in partnership with local authorities.

“Rather than place high demand in one town or city, the Home Office are keen to have the greatest number of local authorities making the smallest contribution towards housing people seeking asylum throughout the UK.

“Whilst immigration is not devolved, the Welsh Government is keen that Wales becomes a nation of sanctuary and to play it’s part in accommodating Asylum Seekers and for more local authorities to participate in the scheme.”

He explained that the properties would be found from the private rental sector.

To this end, Blaenau Gwent would work with Clearsprings Ready Homes who provide the accommodation for the Home Office: “to identify and source accommodation.”

Mr Hunt said: “They are also responsible for providing the overall management and support for asylum seekers while they are in those properties.”

“The role of the local authority would be very much hands off.”

And after a year the council can review its participation in the scheme and decide whether to increase the numbers accommodated in the county borough or not.

Cllr Stephen Thomas said: “I totally support this, it’s pleasing to see the Syrian families who were re-settled in my area have been a fantastic addition to the community, and I think the swifter this goes through the Executive the better.”

Councillors voted to support the proposal.

This recommendation will be included in the report that will be discussed by the Executive committee next month.

Statistics show that 35,099 asylum applications were received during 2020, an increase of 11 per cent on 2019.

This meant that by the end of June 2020 there were 45,769 asylum seekers
in the UK receiving support.

Wales has provided accommodation for asylum seekers in four
‘Dispersal Areas’: Newport, Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham.

The increase in demand now means that all Welsh local authorities are being asked to find accommodation.

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