Council calls on government for dedicated financial support for asylum seekers
Thursday 30 November, 2023: Hillingdon Council is calling on the government to consider exceptional funding to enable boroughs with higher numbers of asylum seekers to provide sustained support.
However, the current funding package offered by the government to all local authorities does not go far enough and leaves boroughs like Hillingdon, and neighbouring Hounslow, with the difficult task of balancing budgets to support local residents with the financial support needed to assist those in the borough entering the asylum process.
The council received positive news this week when Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP and Hillingdon Councillor, Steve Tuckwell, asked Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick MP in Parliament if more help would be forthcoming due to the 'funding imbalance in national rates linked between the local population and asylum seekers'.
Mr Jenrick acknowledged the borough's situation was more acute than that of most and admitted it 'does need support' and said he'd be happy to work with Cllr Tuckwell on a resolution.
Cllr Ian Edwards, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: "This borough has a proud history of welcoming people, reflected in its rich diversity of cultures and ethnicities. Our strong sense of community is why people settle here and stay. Those escaping some of the most hostile places in the world should rightly look for sanctuary in a borough of safety, tolerance and compassion, where we can provide them with the support they need.
"We've been working hard to support those asylum seekers who have presented in Hillingdon, but our intrinsic link to Heathrow Airport means we have a disproportionate number when compared to other boroughs.
"This brings with it greater responsibility and, more concerningly, puts a greater strain on funding at a time when all local authorities are facing acute and unprecedented budget pressures.
"While we welcome the Immigration Minister's response in Parliament this week, we'd like a more formal response from the government that it acknowledges the disproportionate pressure boroughs like Hounslow and our own are under and offering a comprehensive support package to alleviate it."