UK Government plea to councils and businesses to help resettle evacuated Afghans

A UK Government minister in charge of resettling displaced individuals and families from Afghanistan has denied there is a shortage of housing for those evacuated to Britain.

UK military personnel prior to boarding an RAF Voyager aircraft at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, as part of a 600-strong UK-force sent to assist with the operation to rescue British nationals in Afghanistan.
UK military personnel prior to boarding an RAF Voyager aircraft at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, as part of a 600-strong UK-force sent to assist with the operation to rescue British nationals in Afghanistan.

Victoria Atkins, speaking to the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists Association, refused to state how many homes had been offered for the 15,000 people, around 3,000 families, who are set to be resettled in the UK.

In a plea to councils to come forward to offer housing for families affected by the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul, Ms Atkins said she was keen all corners of the country could offer help.

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The minister for Afghan resettlement, said: “"Obviously we would love the others to do so [offer homes] and that is my plea, not just to Scottish local authorities but any local authority across the United Kingdom that hasn’t yet been able to make a firm offer, we’d very much like them to.

"We are really keen that we work across the United Kingdom to offer the people that we have evacuated but going forward the people that will come to join us in the months and years ahead, that we offer them a really warm welcome.”

Ms Atkins said at least half of Scotland’s local authorities had offered to help resettle individuals affected, and also asked for any businesses who could offer accommodation and work to come forward.

Pressed for a figure on the number of homes offered for the evacuees, Ms Atkins said: “We are not going to give a running tally.

“We are a month and a bit from the evacuation...we are just getting our ducks in a row and figures will be released in due course."

Asked whether those arriving from Afghanistan were among those hit by the cut to the Universal Credit uplift of £20 a week, the minister confirmed there were no different rules for those who were evacuated.

She said: “They will be treated, I would imagine, it’s not my department, they will be treated as the rest of the British population, we couldn’t have different rules.

"The DWP and the Scottish Government have tweaked the rules regarding the habitual residents test precisely to help ensure that people have access to the system as quickly as they need it.”

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