Councils need financial support to prepare for more refugees

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today called for the Scottish Government to set out what additional funding will be made available to support the resettlement of refugees from Ukraine as he warned that six months on from the fall of Afghanistan hundreds of Afghans remain temporary accommodation. 

In a letter to External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson, Mr Cole-Hamilton praised his commitment to welcoming Ukrainian refugees "with open arms" and urged him to ensure that local authorities are provided with new funding to support those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.

Last week STV News revealed that as many as 300 Afghans remain in temporary “bridging” accommodation in different parts of the country, as work to resettle them continues. Freedom of Information requests found there are currently 151 Afghan refugees in hotels in Edinburgh and 54 in Fife. Aberdeen Council said there had been upwards of 100 refugees in its hotels, but that figure has changed on a regular basis.

The Scottish Government's refugee integration strategy "New Scots" is supposed to run from 2018 up until 2022. 

Alex Cole-Hamilton said:

"The UK Government are slowly moving towards a position of allowing more Ukrainians to enter the UK and I am keen that Scotland makes a generous offer to support those who have been forced to flee their homes. 

"I share Angus Robertson's desire for Scotland to be a good global citizen but I am concerned that preparations on the ground rarely match up with this government's rhetoric. 

"The Government's existing refugee integration strategy is nearing the end of its lifespan and its clear that it will need serious work to update it in light of global events. It is already struggling to deal with people fleeing from Afghanistan, which lest we forget was just six months ago. 

"Local authorities are clearly struggling to find permanent accommodation and this will be even more challenging with more than £250m of Scottish Government cuts to their budget in the year ahead. They will need fresh resources if they are to ensure that everyone who arrives on these shores is given an opportunity to begin a new life." 

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