Resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees in Britain will cost nearly two billion pounds, a spending watchdog has revealed.
The National Audit Office (NAO) have estimated that every Syrian refugee who comes to Britain will cost taxpayers up to £17,340 per year on average for their first five years in the UK.
According to the latest UK figures, 2,800 Syrian refugees have arrived in Britain since David Cameron promised to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020.
The watchdog warned that nearly 5,000 houses or flats, and more than 10,000 childcare and school places, will be needed to honour the pledge.
The NAO said the total sum is uncertain as it depends in large part on the level of medial treatment refugees need and the extent to which they can gain employment and become self-sufficient.
Based on department assumptions, it estimated that the cost to the end of 2019/20 could be up to £1.1 billion, and up to £1.73 billion over the lifetime of the project.
Their report said: “The future of the programme could be put at risk by local authorities’ lack of suitable accommodation and school places.”
In April the government committed to take in 3,000 vulnerable child refugees and their carers in one of the biggest resettlement programmes in the World from the war-torn Syria region.
Refugees who have already arrived in Britain have been dispersed across 118 local authority areas and NAO said enough “indicative” pledges have been secured from local authorities to meet the government’s target.
The report added: “It is essential that these pledges materialise into firm offers of support as more refugees will need to be resettled each quarter during the remainder of the programme than have been so far”, the NAO said.
Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “The programme team achieved a great deal in a short amount of time, resettling much larger numbers of refugees than previous programmes, due in large part to the dedication and goodwill of those involved.
“The characteristics of the refugees arriving in the UK will become clearer over time. With this new information, the programme team must adapt budgets so that no organisation taking part in the programme struggles to participate effectively due to cost pressures.”
David Simmonds, of the Local Government Association, said: “We have previously said that we were confident in ensuring that there would be sufficient pledges to support the Government’s aim to resettle 20,000 people by 2020 and the Home Office has now confirmed this to be true. The focus must now be on ensuring families are well supported.”
A Government spokesman said : “We have secured all the local authority pledges required to meet this commitment and the hard work across Government involving the devolved administrations and local authorities will continue until we have turned all of these pledges into places and resettled 20,000 people.
“We ask local authorities to consider carefully whether they have the necessary infrastructure and support networks before a resettlement occurs and we will only resettle individuals to a particular area once we’ve ensured these arrangements, including school places and housing, are in place.”
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