Only one-third of councils offer to resettle Afghan refugees – 'What's their excuse?'

Afgan refugees wait to be processed after arriving on an evacuation flight from Afghanistan, at Heathrow Airport, London on August 26, 2021. - A terrorist threat against Kabul airport is
Afghan refugees wait to be processed after arriving at Heathrow Airport, London. (Getty)

Only one-third of councils have offered to resettle Afghan refugees, officials have said.

Around 100 local authorities, out of 333, have agreed to house migrants as part of the UK’s Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy scheme.

The programme is currently open to approximately 8,300 people who helped Britain during the Afghanistan war.

Abi Brown, Conservative leader of Stoke-on-Trent city council, questioned why more local authorities are not helping Afghan evacuees.

She told Radio 4’s Today programme: “How could you not watch those scenes on the television over the last few weeks and put forward over this?

“But the question I would like to ask the other local authority leaders, 66% who haven’t nominated, is – why can’t they?”

Brown added: “If I can, with the challenges that we have – one in 250 people in Stoke on Trent are an asylum seeker, and as a result of the pressure around that we have withdrawn from the asylum dispersal system – what’s their excuse?”

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Afghan-resettlement minister Victoria Atkins said she is “confident” more councils will join up to resettlement schemes.

She told the Today programme: “We’ve had firm offers from at least a third of councils and we’re in talks with many, many more, so I’m confident that number will change over the coming days.

“Tomorrow the housing secretary is meeting local government chiefs to discuss how we can make this scheme work fairly across the country.”

Atkins also admitted in an LBC interview that more council houses were needed to meet demand: “We continue all of our work on social housing and affordable housing. We need to get more houses built.

'But we have to face facts, we have 10,000 people staying in quarantine hotels today.

'I've got to get them out of quarantine over the coming days into probably bridging accommodation, because, I've got to be frank, we haven't got the housing stock to put them straight into homes.”

A member of Border Force staff (L) assists an Afghan refugee on her arrival on an evacuation flight from Afghanistan, at Heathrow Airport, London on August 26, 2021. - A terrorist threat against Kabul airport is
Afghan refugees are currently in hotel quarantine. (Getty)

Meanwhile, London has already taken in more than 100 families after mayor Sadiq Khan vowed to help the city’s councils and housing associations support the refugees' arrival.

In total, 27 boroughs have shown a willingness to help, with Greenwich and Enfield leading the way with most people resettled, according to a London Councils survey.

Khan has promised to expand his new Right to Buy-back fund to help councils purchase homes that could be used to resettle families arriving from Afghanistan.

Housing associations are also being encouraged to apply for funding for suitable homes that can be delivered quickly.

Around 15,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan, but Labour has claimed around 5,000 may have been left behind.