Officers updated members in relation to Asylum and Refugees Resettlement.
Members asked who was funding the British Red Cross. Officers explained the British Red Cross were commissioned to provide very specific orientation support to Afghan families and that was funded by at a tariff from the Home Office.
Members referred to the company Clear Springs and it referred to three properties for family accommodation, members asked officers if the property was in addition to the three properties already in place. Officers explained that the three Afghan families had arrived and were a refugee resettlements program, which was entirely different to the asylum dispersal route. Asylum seekers and refugees had a different legal definition. Clear Springs had been contracted by the Home Office to source initial accommodation for Asylum Seekers. Officers had no details on what the nationalities could be and wouldn’t know until the property was procured.
Members asked in relation to the host family visa scheme, what would happen if the relationship between the Ukrainian family and the host family doesn’t go very well after a few weeks or a couple of months, would the local authority intervene. Officers explained under the Ukrainian settlements program, the people arrive in with their visas either through the homes for Ukraine or the family visa scheme had all the rights to housing, education and benefits so, if the relationship broke down they could present to the housing options service who would have to provide advice or temporary accommodation.
Officers mentioned the report briefly explains about the unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and issues they had with the dispersal mechanism from the Home Office. While Officers had worked well with Welsh Government, the relationship wasn’t as strong with the Home Office where officers had to write to the Home Office that there were safeguarding issues and the way they were discharging their responsibilities. Officers suggested that the committee may want a further report in relation to the Home Office. Members were happy with this suggestion.
Members asked in relation to Clear Springs, what input they had with regards to monitoring the quality of accommodation that the company were allocating. Officers explained under the Asylum Dispersal Route, Clear Springs had a process whereby they consult the local authority on a prospective property that they hope to procure, they would send the details to officers and then they consult with colleagues across the local authority, which would include Education, Safeguarding, Housing and Environmental Health. Officers also consult with South Wales Police, the Health Board, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service to find out their views also. The form would be required to be returned within five days and within that form, officers could say whether they were supportive or not supportive of the property being used.
The Home Office and Clear Springs could challenge that and had already pushed back against one property that was raised concerns about on behalf of South Wales Police.
Members asked for an update in relation to what the position was around the housing enforcement and maybe write to the Minister for more clarity. Officers explained they give assurances that the properties would be in good condition because the company has had criticism in the past for the quality of their accommodation, officers agreed to bring an update back to the Committee.