Torbay has agreed to accept four families under the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Scheme (VPRS).

Under the VPRS the Home Office pass cases to local authorities who have asked to participate in the scheme, giving details of family make up, ages and particular needs. The local authority can choose to accept or reject cases at this stage. It is also possible for authorities to request a particular make up of family that will best suit our community.

The civil war in Syria has resulted in the world’s single largest refugee crisis. In the past five years over 50% of Syria’s population have fled their homes, five million of which are registered as refugees with the UNHCR living in camps. War crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed on a massive scale throughout the conflict, including massacres, murder, torture, enforced disappearance, rape and sexual violence. It is estimated that 470,000 people have been killed and 1.9 million injured.

A report backed by the UN says that as a result of the war, 80% of people in Syria live in poverty and struggle to meet their basic food needs. Life expectancy reduced sharply from 76 years in 2010 to an estimated 56 years by 2014. Almost three million Syrians lost their jobs during the conflict, meaning 12 million people lost their primary source of income; and unemployment increased significantly from 15% in 2011 to 58% by 2014.

The Syrian Scheme prioritises help for women, children, the elderly, survivors of torture and violence and those in need of medical care.

20,000 refugees will be accepted to the UK over the next five years. This is 0.5% of the refugees displaced in Syria and will add 0.03% to the overall UK population.

Under this Scheme, the government provides funding to the council to support refugees for the first five years. Core education and health costs are also provided through the Departments for Education and Health.

Once local authorities have agreed to take in a particular family, they will receive funding on the basis of the individual needs of that family. That funding will pay for housing, and also contribute to the services the family would require on settling in the community.

It is important to note that no funding would be diverted from local budgets but will work within an existing finance programme which would support the resettlement process. There would also be the opportunity for local charities and individuals to offer support if they so wished in providing basic clothing, furniture etc.

Scheme participants are eligible to access benefits and social housing, and can work in the same way as UK residents. We intend to source private rented accommodation for the families.

Based on the number of families that we will be accepting, the impact on our labour market for workers is likely to be minimal. We will work with partners to match up the requirements of our job market with the skills that the refugees will bring with them.

The council will look at what school places are available when they arrive and will allocate appropriately. The health and social care needs of participants will be assessed before they arrive in Torbay to consider whether we are able to support them. And any additional needs assessed on arrival will be met through our joint commissioning arrangements.

On arrival, scheme participants will receive support with local orientation, interpretation, registering with a GP and accessing other services. They will also be assisted to access English classes and look for work. Most Syrian refugees will be Muslim, although there is a significant Christian minority. They will be supported to access places of worship and wider community groups.

All refugees are security checked prior to their departure, to ensure public safety and maintain appropriate safeguards. Like anyone else, refugees must abide by the laws of the country they are resident in and risk losing their status if they fail to do so.

Refugees eligible for this scheme are already in UNHCR’s camps. Whilst there is never a guarantee of 100% certainty, from UNHCR’s work in the camps to the UKs security services vetting capabilities, the selection is carried out in the safest manner possible.