Nick Clegg talks of shock and disappointment at Sheffield’s Labour council refusing to accommodate vulnerable Syrian refugees

Syrian refugee children fleeing the violence in their country with their families pose for a picture on February 20, 2012 at a partially set up camp in Mafraq city, near Jordan's northern border with Syria.From today’s Guardian:

Nick Clegg has accused Labour council leaders in Sheffield of refusing to take a single refugee from Syria under the coalition government’s vulnerable persons relocation (VPR) scheme.

The deputy PM and Sheffield MP is furious that Labour put pressure on the coalition government to do more to help Syrian refugees but is refusing to offer practical help locally. Refugees have been arriving from Syria in the past few weeks under the government scheme.

Nick said:

Councils are being asked to take just a small number of refugees under this scheme and Sheffield has a history of assisting those who are in desperate need of help.

So, it came as both a huge shock and disappointment to me that the council leader has decided to shut the door on some of the most vulnerable people in the world, without any consultation with local people at all.

Given that Labour MPs were so vocal in calling for the resettlement programme, I hope they will now put pressure on their Labour colleagues in the town hall and use their influence to reverse this appalling decision.

I’m proud of Sheffield’s standing as a city of sanctuary, but I’m deeply concerned that local Labour councillors are tarnishing that reputation by refusing to help vulnerable women and children displaced by the terrible conflict in Syria.

You would think that that they could find room for a very small number of people who have known the most brutal and horrible of experiences.

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  • Question When Do these Refugee’s go Home If perminant understand them not taking them in Also who Funding thier care The Local taxpayer or? Genuine questions that need answers

  • The other side to this story :-

    “Syrian refugees are being rejected by local authorities across England who say the Government is not offering enough money to fund their support.. Councils in Sheffield, Manchester and Hull have all told the Home Office that they would need more financial help to accept those fleeing conflict in Syria. These local authorities point out that the Government’s Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme only guarantees funding for a year – yet those seeking sanctuary are expected to stay for a minimum of five years…

    “So far Bradford and one other unnamed council are the only local authorities to have given a firm commitment to host Syrian refugees…”

    “Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield City Council, replied: ‘This is outrageous of Nick Clegg – who is not telling the truth. Sheffield has not refused to resettle Syrian refugees. I am concerned about the effect the Syrian crisis has had on thousands of people which is why we wrote to the Government on 6 March making it clear we were willing to take refugees, but the problem is that the programme the Government has designed only offers funding for one year.'”

    So it looks like only two councils have agreed to the government’s scheme – one anonymous one, and minority Labour-led Bradford. Several other Labour councils in deprived areas (including Sheffield) have offered to take refugees but have requested a bigger government contribution. And this is supposed to reflect badly on councils like Sheffield? There are plenty of better-off areas than Sheffield. Why have none of them offered to take on these refugees? Why isn’t Nick Clegg having a go at them? How many Tory and Lib Dem councils have made an offer even as good as Sheffield’s?

  • Whatever the rights and wrong of this issue, it needs to be resolved without creating a political football out of it. Our political leaders need to bash some heads together to get this sorted without resorting to the kind of rhetoric that gives politicians of all stripes a bad name.

  • Julian Dean 2nd Apr '14 - 6:05pm

    Sheffield have suffered approx. 100 mill in cuts due to the coalition cutting their settlement.

    They can barely afford to operate as it stands now and yet Cleggs has the gaul to criticise the city!

  • funding is largely provided by the EU, funnelled through the UK Home Office which can supplement the programme. here the council is advocating for enough funding to be able to provide people with a decent level of care, given that those who will arrive under it are extremeky vulnerable in terms of medical and other needs. that’s the profile of the group that the programme is for.

    this is shameless politicking in any case, from a lib dem irritated at the loss of Sheffield Council – largely due to the ill-advised decision to form the current coalition government – who also stood up in parliament not so very long ago to support the UK not participating in the syrian programme. embarrassing.

  • I honestly think Nick Clegg has lost the plot completely – a disgraceful attempt to gain political points at the expense of these poor people.

  • Surely Clegg would have been better advised to have done something positive rather than something which seems like shabby exploitation of the misery of Syrian refugees? I would have thought there would be plenty of things he could have attacked Sheffield Labour Party for rather than this. He could have attacked them for Blunkett’s attitude to Roma residents of Sheffield.

    BTW – Is the policy really to scatter a few hundred Syrians around all the cities and towns in the UK so that they will little opportunity to keep in touch with each other and provide mutual support to each other?

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