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Paper 4 - 28 January 2000

ASSOCIATION OF HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT LOCAL AUTHORITIES

28 January 2000

ASYLUM SEEKERS - INTERIM ARRANGEMENTS

Report by the Director of Social Services, Hampshire County Council

RECOMMENDATIONS

(1) That all member authorities support the work of the South Central Consortium;

(2) That all member authorities facilitate the dispersal of asylum seekers by identifying the availability of accommodation in their areas;

(3) That a further report be presented during the year.

SUMMARY

1. The Government has introduced legislation to manage the dispersal of asylum seekers. This legislation will be implemented in April 2000. There are however, statutory interim arrangements which require response from all local authorities.

2. Local Authority Consortia have been established to manage the dispersal of asylum seekers. There are ten across the UK and our local consortium covers Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton, the Isle of Wight, Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset.

3. The consortium has been asked to provide accommodation for about 1000 asylum seekers between 6 December 1999 and 31 March 2000.

4. The response and availability has been poor.

INTRODUCTION

1. With the Immigration and Asylum Act, the Government hopes to:

(i) Significantly reduce the time taken to process asylum applications to a maximum of six months.

(ii) Reduce the backlog of existing applications.

(iii) Reduce the burden on Local Authorities in London and Kent.

3.The Government has introduced statutory interim arrangements prior to the implementation of the Act in April 2000:

(i) The interim arrangements require each consortium area to take about 1000 asylum seekers between December 1999 and April 2000. This is based on historical data and the average number of asylum seekers making applications for asylum.

(ii) The Government is not making any distinction between the consortia and each is required to identify and provide accommodation.

(iii) The Government states that the responsibility for supporting asylum seekers under the interim arrangements will rest on the same classes of local authorities as those currently supporting them. These are in England: London Boroughs, the Corporation of London, Metropolitan Districts, County Councils and Unitary Authorities... "In the English Shire Counties, District Councils (which are the housing authorities for that area) will, where requested, be under a duty to provide reasonable assistance to the Shire County Council who is providing support to the asylum seekers".

ASYLUM SEEKERS - CURRENT SITUATION

2. (i) As of 17 December, the South Central Consortium had only identified a total of 150 places across the whole of the Consortium area. Urgent action is therefore needed to address this shortfall.

(ii) MoD sites were considered, but the MoD's policy does not allow these sites to be used for asylum seekers.

(iii) The NHS is another potential partner and this is being explored, although there has been no directive from the NHS Executive about this issue.

THE FUTURE AND RESERVE POWERS

3. (i) The Authorities which are covered by the South Central Consortium could respond to the dispersal on a crisis management basis - this will lead to the Secretary of State using reserve powers.

(ii) HIOW could ask the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Strategic Housing Officers' Group to work with the South Central Consortium to enable a coherent and consistent approach to be taken.

(iii) HIOW could write to the Home Office and highlight the MoD properties available.

TERRY BUTLER
Director of Social Services, Hampshire County Council

 

Date: 11 January 2000
Annex: 0
Contact: Mohammed Mossadaq - (01962) 845880

Last update: 25/09/2000
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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