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Refugees: which parts of the UK have resettled the fewest refugees - and what support do they receive?

A number of local authorities have failed to resettle a single refugee since 2014

There are more than 70 local authorities in the UK where fewer than one refugee has been resettled per year since 2014, while 40 areas have not hosted a single refugee.

Analysis of Home Office data by NationalWorld reveals a massive disparity across the country, with some areas failing to offer sanctuary to people fleeing war and persecution, as Europe is gripped by a refugee crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Which parts of the UK have resettled the fewest refugees?

As Russia’s invasion has turned millions of Ukrainians into refugees over a matter of weeks, the UK’s commitment to accepting refugees from this and other conflict zones around the world has come under heightened scrutiny.

Some have argued that the UK should not accept more refugees than it currently does.

Conservative MP for Shrewsbury Daniel Kawczynski has been widely criticised for suggesting it would be “immoral” for the UK to accept more refugees, because they will “need to return home to rebuild their country”.

Sir Edward Leigh MP, Tory MP for Lincolnshire has said his constituents had already “done our bit in terms of migration from eastern Europe”.

While Sir Edward seems to have been conflating general migration with the resettlement of refugees, his area has taken a significant number of refugees in recent years, although the same is not true of many other parts of the country.

There are 71 local authorities across the UK which have resettled fewer than eight refugees in the last eight years – not even one per year. Of them, 40 have not resettled a single refugee.

We can also measure the number of refugees according to the size of an area’s population.

The number of refugees rehomed in a rural or sparsely populated area may be more significant than urban areas that at first glance have taken in a higher number of people.

Some local authorities say that their staff look for existing communities that refugees can integrate into. This is aimed at helping new arrivals to the county to settle in more easily, which is prioritised over an even geographic distribution.

How many refugees have been resettled in my area?

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There are 104 local authorities where fewer than one refugee has been resettled per 10,000 residents since 2014.

This contrasts starkly with those parts of the country where hundreds of refugees have been resettled.

In total, Coventry (750), Bradford (717), Birmingham (622), Edinburgh (581) and Glasgow (521) have the highest number of resettled refugees since 2014.

But taking into account population size, the areas with the highest rate of refugee resettlement are Gateshead (25.1 per 10,000), Redcar and Cleveland (22.1), Clackmannanshire (21.6) , Hartlepool (20.7) and Coventry (19.8).

The Home Office figures record until December 2021, prior to the Afghan resettlement scheme becoming operational, meaning some councils may have taken, or have made plans to accept, refugees since then.

What support is available to asylum seekers while they await refugee status?

In many areas the local authority has not had to provide support to any destitute asylum seekers while they await the Home Office’s decision on whether they have the right to remain in the UK.

Once an asylum seeker applies to the Home Office to be recognised as a refugee and therefore be able to stay in the UK, they may be eligible for support administered through the local authority.

This generally means a basic level of subsistence and in some cases emergency accommodation.

There are circumstances in which asylum applicants who have their application refused but are destitute will continue to receive a basic level of support for a period.

Among some of the local authorities which have not resettled any refugees on a permanent basis, there are a number which have provided significant levels of support to those awaiting asylum decisions over the last eight years.

As of December 2021, Glasgow (69.2) and Southwark (45.1) were providing support to the highest number of asylum applicants relative to their size, while Middlesbrough (41.3) had the highest rate among local authorities that have not resettled any refugees since 2014.

Croydon and Sandwell do not have any resettled refugees within their areas, while Manchester has resettled less than one per year on average, but each local authority is currently supporting more than 1000 asylum applicants.

There are a handful of places in the UK which have resettled fewer than one refugee per year and provided support for fewer than one asylum applicant per year on average, since 2014.

They are North Warwickshire, North East Derbyshire, South Staffordshire, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, South Holland and the Shetland Islands.

A Great Yarmouth Borough Council spokesperson said: “Within Norfolk we work across the county and district councils to provide coordinated support for refugees.

“Norfolk is a rural area with an uneven distribution of services, and rather than isolate people by spreading them evenly across the county we have taken an active decision to work with neighbouring authorities to ensure refugees can access appropriate support.

“This has meant the majority of refugees are accommodated within the wider Norwich area and this is reflected in the Home Office statistics.”

A spokesperson for South Staffordshire Borough Council said the authority “has made a pledge” to accept three refugee families, and accommodation has been sourced and submitted to the Home Office to be matched with families, we currently have two families being supported.