Wiltshire Council is asking private landlords who have affordable homes which are ready to let, to get in touch as the council prepares to welcome Afghan families to Wiltshire.
The council is one of many local authorities across the UK who have offered to provide homes to families who are fleeing Afghanistan.
Currently Wiltshire Council is already in the process of welcoming three families to Wiltshire as part of the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), which started in April. This was underway well before the recent crisis in Afghanistan made the situation more urgent. This scheme offers relocation or other assistance to families who will settle in Wiltshire. These families have homes ready for them.
However, the Prime Minister recently announced in Parliament that a new Afghan resettlement scheme is being launched (in addition to the current running ARAP scheme) to take 20,000 with 5,000 in the first year.
Wiltshire Council is committed to do everything it can to help more Afghan refugees settle in Wiltshire as part of this new scheme once further details emerge. It has been identifying properties that could be used to help including offers from other organisations and the public as well as considering it's own Stone Circle housing. It is now asking private landlords who have affordable property or properties to send in the details by completing a survey detailing types of property available or using the government portal for housing offers. The council will then keep these details and be in touch if they are needed. Wiltshire Council is awaiting further guidance from government however it is the council's intention to use affordable homes in the private rented sector or properties that are offered - as it did when support was offered to Syrian refugee families.
Some people have kindly offered a room in their own homes, but the government has said that shared houses and general lodgings are not suitable for the scheme.*
Meanwhile people have also been generously offering support and donations. Wiltshire Council is asking people to hold onto these goods for the moment and will say where and when they can be delivered. The government has also set up a national link for those wanting to offer help in this way.
Cllr Richard Clewer, Leader of Wiltshire Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Military Civilian Integration, said:
We are asking private landlords that have a property which is ready to let to get in touch now so we can have the details to hand if they are needed and add them to the list we are already compiling. We are waiting for the government to provide more information, however it will be helpful to know what can be made available. We are also talking to the Ministry of Defence about how we could support them using the significant number of empty MOD houses in the county as another option. Thank you again to everyone who has come forward with offers of help. We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of people in Wiltshire. For the moment we are waiting for more information from government and we will be providing further details in due course on how people can provide general support.