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The Home Office have confirmed that it is in talks with a number of local authorities to accept would-be refugees under the national ‘dispersal’ scheme.
The scheme, which was introduced in 1999, was set up to manage the increase in asylum seeker applications. Its purpose is to ease the financial burden for councils and to relieve the housing pressures in London and south-east England by relocating migrants to other parts of Britain.
Authorities currently involved in the scheme take migrants on the basis of one refugee per 200 residents. There were a total of 29,000 applications for asylum in the UK last year, the highest number in a decade. This total rose by 4,700 between September 2014 and September 2015 compared with the previous year. A figure which is the largest number seen since 2005, when there were 30,314.
With the escalating refugee crisis, the immigration minister, James Brokenshire, has now called on more local councils to accommodate for the rising numbers. Mr Brokenshire told the Commons’ Home Affairs select committee ‘We are looking to expand the number of local authorities involved in these dispersal areas.’
This comes after heightened levels of pressure calling for a policy review. Despite positive results in easing pressure in the London and the South-East regions, many asylum seekers are currently being sent to live in the poorest areas of the country, where there are large numbers of unemployment, deprivation, low paid jobs and benefit dependent living.
The North-West of England have the largest share of asylum seekers, which currently stands at 7,916, compared with just 471 in the South East. Council leaders operating in these higher concentrated areas have called for a fairer distribution system and these statistics even led to the chairman of the committee, Keith Raz, to point out the contrast and unfairness in dispersal.
Sarah Rapson, the director-general of UK Visas and Immigration, has also called for a review, adding ‘We would like more local authorities to participate because that would ease the system.’
This brings encouraging news for migrants and the country, as the rise in calls for change have had an impact.