East Devon agrees to foot £1million for homes for Afghan refugees with the ‘hope’ they can become future council houses

Homes earmarked for Afghanistan refugees, costing East Devon tax payers almost £1million, will ‘hopefully be turned over to council house tenants in the future, it has been announced.

Homes will be provided in East Devon for refugees arriving in the county from Afghanistan, writes local democracy reporter Guy Henderson.

More arrivals, whose work to support British forces in Afghanistan means their lives are in peril, are expected to reach Devon in the coming months.

East Devon District Council has agreed to provide five homes at a cost of almost a million pounds. A further £750,000 will come from the Government.

Four of the homes will be specifically for refugee families.

Members of the council’s cabinet heard this week that once the homes are no longer needed by Afghan refugees, they will be available for people on local housing lists.

The Government’s department for levelling up, homes and communities has issued funds to help councils provide temporary accommodation for Afghan refugees who are currently living in hotels such as one in Exmouth.

A report to the committee said the government money is designed to help Afghan citizens who helped Britain during the conflict in their country. All local authorities have been encouraged to take part.

The report said that while there is currently no local refugee need for the new properties, more Afghan refugees are expected to arrive from other countries in the next few months. They would have priority for the four properties.

The report added: “It is not possible to say with certainty for how long the accommodation will be needed for its primary purpose. However, based on our experience of the bridging hotel, most families have looked to move to other areas, usually larger cities such as London or Birmingham.

“This would suggest that the length of time for any placement would likely be more temporary, perhaps less than a year.”

Liberal Democrat council leader Paul Arnott (Coly Valley) said: “Hopefully if the world calms down in the next five to 10 years and there aren’t refugees, this will be housing stock that can be used for other people.

“This is government money, and the government is asking us to do this. We have a duty to support Afghan people who supported our forces in the conflict.”

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