Council set to buy 25 homes to help refugees

Wirral Council is set to purchase another five properties to help Afghan and Ukrainian refugees find homes as it nears its target of 25.

It was previously reported by the LDRS in 2023 that the local authority was purchasing 20 properties to help house Afghan refugees who have been given settled status in the UK, as well as to address issues of homelessness.

Funding for these properties came through the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

The council is now looking to purchase 25 properties in total after an additional allocation for five homes in March, according to an officer decision published by Wirral Council on 3 July. Decisions had already been made for 24 properties but after two new builds didn’t progress, this has meant two more have had to be bought.

This brings the total cost up to £4m for the scheme, with £2.4m funded by the government. However, there is still a risk three of the properties may not be completed. The council is using £2.8m of ringfenced funding to make up the shortfall.

The council said this was because the government “has recognised that local authorities such as Wirral, who have welcomed Ukrainian and Afghan arrivals are facing challenges in securing settled accommodation for these households, which unless alleviated will further impact on existing housing pressures”.

According to a Wirral Council report published in March, there are currently 105 households being supported by the local authority in temporary accommodation, 73 of which are in bed and breakfast accommodation. This is more than double the figure in December 2021 where 38 households were homeless but costs have risen further.

According to the decision report, “15 of these properties must be provided to Afghan nationals who have been given settlement status by the UK and have been living in bridging hotels but must now move to settled long-term accommodation.

“10 properties must be used as temporary accommodation, helping to alleviate significant homelessness pressures in the borough.”

Leader of the council’s Conservative group Cllr Jeff Green previously welcomed the government providing additional funding for the purchases, adding, “We know these families’ lives were put at significant risk when the Taliban took retook power and it is heartening we are making good on the debt of honour we owe these brave people.”

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