To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department has taken to explore the possibility of resettling Syrians to the UK via private sponsorship from individual British citizens who have expressed interest in offering accommodation to Syrians in need; and what discussions she has had with the Local Government Association on ways in which local authorities can indicate their interest in resettling Syrians in their communities.
We have not considered a private sponsorship model for the resettlement of Syrians through the Vulnerable Persons Relocation scheme. We do not believe this is appropriate given the vulnerabilities of those arriving in the UK as we need to ensure that the correct level of support and accommodation is in place before they arrive in the UK.
After launching the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme last January, the Home Secretary wrote to the Chairman of the Local Government Association on 11 February 2014 encouraging local authority participation and the contents of this letter have been cascaded across local authorities. As the scheme has progressed, we have continued to engage closely with local authorities who have expressed an interest in participation.
Following the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) pledging conference in Geneva on 9 December 2014, a number of additional local authorities have also expressed an interest, and we are in discussions with them. We are grateful to the local authorities who are supporting the scheme, and we remain confident that we can continue to meet the needs of arrivals in the UK under the scheme as planned. We expect the scheme to help several hundred Syrians over three years, and we welcome further offers of support from local authorities as the scheme progresses.