Refugees coming to UK more likely to be resettled in Labour than Conservative held areas

The Afghanistan crisis has shone a light on how the UK Government handles its humanitarian responsibilities but major disparities in how it distributes refugees across the country can now be revealed.

The story was originally published on 26 August 2021.

Labour-held council areas are taking on a greater share of refugees than Conservative patches, highlighting major geographical disparities in the UK’s resettlement process, NationalWorld can reveal.

While Labour-held areas across the UK have resettled 7,375  refugees since 2014, a rate of 39 refugees resettled per 100,000 people, Conservative-held areas have taken in  3,333, a rate of 21 per 100,000.

It comes as the UK prepares to take thousands of vulnerable Afghan refugees over the coming years, following the Taliban’s rapid takeover of the country and the ensuing surge of  citizens desperate to escape .

Official Home Office data covering until June shows 22,494 refugees have been resettled under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Schemes and the UK Resettlement Scheme since 2014.

The UK’s resettlement schemes allow vulnerable refugees to travel to the UK to start a new life, with 20,000 Afghans set to be resettled in the coming years. People who seek asylum in the UK once they have arrived are not included in the figures.

Across the 334 local authorities that took in resettled refugees, 43 have accepted fewer than 10 while 61 have welcomed 100 or more. Coventry has accepted the most — 725 people in total.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has responded to NationalWorld’s analysis by calling on all UK councils to help support refugees during the crisis.

Resettlement schemes

Official Home Office data covering until June shows 22,494 refugees have been resettled under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Schemes and the UK Resettlement Scheme since 2014.

But analysis by NationalWorld exposes an imbalance in the distribution of refugees across council areas.

Labour areas have taken in 33% of the total while just 15% went to areas under Tory rule.  The bulk (10,750, or 48%) were homed in councils where there was no overall political control.

There are 23 Conservative-held areas including Kensington and Chelsea, Havant and Ribble Valley which have resettled fewer than 10 refugees since 2014. Only five Labour councils have taken fewer than 10.


Scotland has resettled more refugees than any other region in the UK. The country has accepted 3,623, or 16% of all refugees. This is followed by Yorkshire and the Humber, which has resettled 2,624 people, or 12%.

The East Midlands has resettled far fewer people — 939 in the last seven years, making up just 4% of all resettlements.

London doesn’t fare much better. The city has resettled 1,126 refugees since 2014, or 5% of all resettlements. That is despite being home to 13% of the population.

North of England leaders including Manchester mayor Andy Burnham last week (19 August) promised to welcome refugees but called for them to be fairly distributed across the country.

Just four of Manchester’s 10 councils have seen refugees resettled there over the last seven years - Manchester, Tameside, Trafford, Bury and Stockport.

Between them they are home to 50 resettled refugees, just six per 100,000 people.

An urgent global problem

Matthew Saltmarsh, spokesperson for UN refugee agency UNHCR UK, said the UK’s local authorities should help refugees in any way possible.

Mr Saltmarsh said: “We would encourage local authorities right across the country to help as best they can with an urgent global problem by extending a welcome to refugees, in support of government efforts, by offering them the best chance possible to rebuild their lives in a new community.”

The UK Government has announced the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme will allow 5,000 vulnerable Afghans to be resettled in the UK, with 20,000 accepted in the long term. The scheme will focus on those most at risk of persecution from the Taliban including women, children and minority groups.

The latest UNHCR  report estimates 2.9 million people were internally displaced in Afghanistan as of 31 December 2020.

The Home Office was approached for comment.

We want to hear from you: let us know what you think about this story and be part of the debate in our comments section below.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.