Syrian Refugee Crisis

Statement from Cllr Caroline Horrill, Portfolio Holder for Housing

9 September 2015

Winchester City Council is ready to respond to the immediate plight of asylum-seekers fleeing from Syria. We are waiting to hear what Government is asking of local authorities, but we are already gearing up to work with colleagues at other Hampshire councils, registered housing providers and private landlords if required.

We cannot ignore the fact that we have very high demand for housing in Winchester and over 2,000 in housing need on our waiting lists. Our own Council housing has to be used to assist local residents first. However, a number of options for assisting refugees do exist and I have asked our housing team to explore options so we can respond if we are asked to do so by Government. I am also meeting with other housing providers next week and will be discussing how we can best work together on this issue.

Winchester has a proud track-record of helping people in need – the Zimbabwe refugee crisis is one example where the City Council played its part in finding housing and providing support in such circumstances.

It is important that we maintain some perspective on this issue. It is likely that initial requests will look at areas where the demand and cost for housing is lower than in Winchester and where more housing options are likely to exist. If Winchester is asked to assist, it is likely that numbers will be small. However, we do stand ready to provide the support that the Government asks of us.

We are also noting calls of support from housing providers and the public (who are offering their spare rooms), which we will action as and when we understand the provision required for the refugees from the Government.