This is a letter to the Prime Minister regarding the costs of Afghan refugees in Uxbridge by Cliff Dixon
“The Prime Minister instigated an offer to Afghan interpreters and their families plus others on the approved list to come and live in the United Kingdom. Under the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (“ARCS”) 30,000 Afghans are being offered the chance to live in the United Kingdom.
As research from the Centre for Migration and Economic Prosperity has shown the burden of housing and looking after those arrivals falls on a small number of councils. This has put enormous pressure on councils and local communities and now we are seeing the effect of Council tax increases to reflect these additional costs.
This letter from CMEP contributor Cliff Dixon to the Prime Minister perfectly highlights the costs and pressure one council area Hilligdon is facing.
Dear Prime Minister/Leader of the Council
I read page 24 of the latest Hillingdon People magazine about your efforts to rehouse Afghan refugees with interest.
Whilst I agree that we have a debt of honour to those interpreters who helped the NATO forces on the ground (I have backed calls from veterans such as Col Richard Kemp to do so), parts of the article threw up issues that I feel need to be addressed.
The piece states that it recognises ‘the shortage of affordable large family homes locally’ As our obligation is to the interpreters, many of whom are young and do not have families, why are ‘large family homes’ which many in this Borough have been on waiting lists for years to get being thrown in to the equation? I am old enough to remember the Ugandan Asians who we helped in the 70’s and who have made an invaluable contribution since then to our local community – They came with nothing and in many cases were housed in RAF accommodation at what is now St Andrew’s Park. They were grateful to be out of the clutches of Idi Amin, got their heads down and worked their way to where they are now without any complaints about the housing that was initially provided for them.
Also, as such housing is near non existent in the public sector, we will no doubt see once again the buy to let landlords hiking the prices for this new shortage at the expense of local tenants. Having been on the end twice of evictions at the end of 12 month tenancies where I have been outbid on my home by migrants utilising housing benefit (Plus having assisted others who found themselves in the same situation), what assurances can you give that this will not adversely affect those on low incomes in the borough who are dependent upon private rental but do not count as ‘Category A on need’ clients?
Now on to the financial cost. After being contacted last year by a number of concerned residents, I submitted a freedom of information request to the council about costs and numbers associated with migrants – At the time, this related to those coming in from the coast that we take as part of our Port Authority commitments.
The figures stated were £2.8 million from local council coffers and a further £6 million from central government. With the current financial implications around the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic and the hardships faced by many families, how can we justify further increases in not just the cash allocated but no doubt the knock on effect in terms of further council tax increases? It has not passed the notice of many that our first council tax increases for 10 years coincided with these extra outgoings last year. Indeed, if we are to recover quickly from the events of the last 18 months then residents need more money in their pockets to spend and generate additional jobs in the local community, not seeing further tax increases that mean there is less money being put back into the economy. It is also of note that the article mentions increased financial assistance to these refugees – With cutbacks in benefits and a rise in National Insurance contributions mooted then surely this is again going to hit the lowest paid of all backgrounds in our community to finance the latest wave of migration to the borough?
Indeed, the interpreters are fit and able bodied – Why are we talking about financial assistance rather than jobs that they are suited to where they will become self-sufficient? With a sizable Afghan community already in the UK, predominantly London based, then they could be ideally placed to help integration through passing on their skills in terms of language to a community in which many do not speak English.
This will result in better socio economic conditions for the Afghan community as a whole who do not fare well compared to other groups as shown in the attached ICAR report from 2010.
Finally, we must look at what the most recent influx of ‘asylum seekers’ has brought to the Borough. According to the UNHRC, around 80% of those claiming Asylum in the UK do not fit their categorisation as Refugees yet there are relatively few removals. The ongoing use of hotels at Heathrow to house those who entered irregularly on the South Coast has caused a number of issues which I have been alerted to and the national press have since covered in part.
Cllr Edwards, you may recall a meeting at the Civic Centre earlier in the year where local food banks asked the council for more resources as those from the Crowne Plaza were descending en masse on their premises and were clearing them out of food and clothing intended for the poorest in our community – This in spite of receiving 3 meals a day in a 4 star hotel.
There have also been reports of groups of young men knocking on residents’ doors around the Bell Farm Estate demanding money and also hanging around in large groups at some of the parks where they are using the bushes as a public convenience.
Finally, as part of the FOI I submitted, it turns out that vulnerable children were removed from a children’s home in Hayes to make way for migrants of indeterminate age (I was initially concerned that vulnerable girls might have been in those homes with people whose backgrounds were unclear) Instances of petty crime and antisocial behaviour had also risen in the immediate vicinity as confirmed by a check on the Police website.
In summary, can you please answer these questions (Bear in mind that they may be used on my social media or passed to relevant media contacts)
1 – What assurances can you give that those in private rental property in the Borough will not be once again evicted or see their rents increase from this latest influx?
2 – What background checks have been carried out to ensure that these migrants are legitimately in need and do not pose a threat to the local community in terms of criminal or ideological behaviour?
3 – How many are we looking to house in the Borough?
4 – What programmes are being put in place to ensure integration and to transition them to being contributing members of our community?
5 – How much money is being ringenced for this programme and what percentage is coming from local and national sources? What knock on effect will that have on council tax?
I can confirm that I am a constituent of the Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat “
Cliff Dixon is an independent campaigner who also writes for www.libertatio.com