To receive a report from the Group Manager for Housing Services providing an update on work relating to the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
The Group had before it a report * from the Group Manager for Housing Services providing an update on work relating to the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. Specifically the report addressed what could be achieved by working with a third party or parties such as the Churches Housing Action Team (CHAT). In addition to this the report examined how other local authorities were managing families given that they were also required to comply with the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 and were likely to be experiencing the same time constraints.
The Director of Operations outlined the contents of the report stating that the scheme had resource and financial liabilities for the authority and that there was no imposed model regarding how properties should be managed and that there was an acceptance that there would be different policies and procedures used by each local authority with several other local authorities engaging with a third party. He informed the meeting that it was the local authority who was the tenant of the property and therefore it would retain the tenant’s liability; officer resource was required to deal with statutory functions and any funding available for the scheme would not finance an additional officer. There was a need to find a way forward which negated the need for the Council’s direct involvement in the scheme.
In response to questions posed in public question time, the officer stated that there was a need to direct resources to comply with the statutory requirement of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2019. To expand the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme would have financial implications which were not within the approved budget.
Consideration was given to:
· The fact that the local residents were willing to support the scheme and there was a property available
· The amount of funding that was recoverable from the Home Office
· The amount of officer resource that was required to extend the scheme
· The tenancy management costs
· The 2 properties that were already in use for the scheme
· The various models used by other local authorities
· The original policy agreed by the Cabinet to take up to 5 Syrian families, at the time of the original decision, the costs of the scheme were unknown
· The original scheme and the fact that the scheme was a non-statutory function of the council, the economic climate and the financially challenging position that the council was in
· Home Office guidance with regard to specialist support required for the families and that vulnerable people could not be attended to by volunteers
· Investigation into a new model and discussions with Devon County Council which could allow the scheme to be progressed by a third party
It was therefore AGREED that representations be made to Devon County Council requesting it to develop a scheme that allowed landlords to accept Syrian refugees with a direct contract with the landlord through the Home Office Scheme.
i) A recommendation to expand the scheme was not supported;
ii) * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes.