Afghan families in Edinburgh still waiting on permanent housing

Council bosses have confirmed Afghan refugees in Edinburgh are still waiting for permanent housing, with more than 200 still in temporary accommodation.

Families fleeing the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan who arrived in the Scottish capital have been, so far, housed in hotels due to a shortage of suitable housing in the city.

City of Edinburgh Council confirmed “no households have been resettled permanently in Edinburgh as yet”, in its latest Refugee Resettlement report.

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But SNP council leader Adam McVey insisted the city was in a position to secure homes in coming weeks.

Home secretary Priti Patel. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

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Councillors said they would also consider increasing the number of refugee places in the city from the existing 100 to 150 at a meeting at Holyrood on Tuesday.

The move comes after home secretary Priti Patel criticised Scottish councils for not “pulling their weight” in helping efforts to rehome Afghan families fleeing conflict.

The delay in providing permanent homes in Edinburgh has been blamed on a shortage of social housing, according to the refugee report.

Council officers warned: “Availability of permanent social housing remains a city-wide challenge.

“It is also important to note that Afghan families can require properties with four bedrooms or more, a configuration which is typically in extremely short supply within social housing stock.”

They said it was “highly likely” the private rented sector options would “play more of a role in resettlement accommodation in the future than it has to this point”.

So far the council has provided temporary accommodation for Afghan families in hotels on two occasions, initially for 75 people from September until October last year and then for 144 people across hotels from January.

In a statement on Monday, Mr McVey said the city was now ready to rehome refugees “by the end of the month”.

He said: “The experience of those fleeing their homes is beyond harrowing and we are committed to helping in whatever way we can.

“Over recent years we have been able to resettle hundreds of refugees and these proposals mean we will be able to give even more people safety and a bright future in our capital.”

Mr McVey added: “We have been liaising with the UK Government to secure the support necessary and will continue working to explore accommodation options.

“We are now in a position to work on finding people permanent housing and are looking forward to resettling our first Afghan households by the end of the month.”

In a letter sent to Mr McVey, the Home Office said: “The ongoing role of local authorities is vital to the Government’s efforts and we are grateful for their continued offers of support and housing.”

Home Office officials said councils would receive “a generous funding package” to support the resettlement of Afghan families who have come to the UK.

They added: “We continue to work with local authorities to source appropriate accommodation as quickly as possible.”

The Home Office confirmed local authorities who support people through the UK Government’s Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) or Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme – both set up to help resettle more than 5,000 people in the first year and up to 20,000 over the coming years – will receive £20,520 per person, over three years, for resettlement and integration costs.

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