Piers Allen West Twickenham Councillor

Afghan refugees left in temporary accommodation as homes remain empty

A Richmond councillor has called on the Government to act as Afghan refugees continue to be stranded in temporary accommodation, despite the council setting aside homes for them to live in.

Three houses were chosen for Afghan families to move into weeks ago, however due to inaction by the Home Office they have been left empty.

Not only has this caused upset for the refugees involved, but it has also wasted council money.

West Twickenham Councillor Piers Allen has confirmed that Richmond Council are still waiting for the green light from the Home Office and claimed the council has not been given the adequate information required to move Afghan refugees into the borough.

He said: “Our responsibility as the council is not just to find them accommodation but also to offer all the service the families need.

“Where we have come unstuck is that the Home Office have not been forthcoming with the information that we need.

“We don’t know anything beyond the fact that these refugees need a family home.”

The Liberal Democrat councillor highlighted that without knowledge of a family’s relevant educational and health requirements it is all but impossible to find them a suitable place to live.

He said: “The original hope was that councillors would meet refugees coming off the plane and welcome them into the borough, but sadly that didn’t happen and these families remain stuck in hotels.

“It just seems unbelievable that the Home Office aren’t in a better situation to deal with this. They’ve got a minister for Afghan refugees in place yet still they cannot cope with this problem.”

The Home Office were approached for a comment but did not respond.

This is not just an issue in Richmond, as multiple boroughs are having to deal with similar complications.

Allen, who is also chair of the Adult Social Services, Health and Housing Services Committee, criticised the Government’s reticence to co-operate with the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association.

The association has been helping refugees to settle in the UK for 20 years, providing English language classes, employment workshops and women’s support groups amongst other services.

However, according to Allen, the association received no response from the minister of Afghan refugees when they offered their assistance.

Unfortunately, despite regular dialogue with the Home Office, Richmond Council still has no inclination as to when the refugees will be able to move into their new homes.

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