Afghan refugees ‘don’t want to move to Wales because it’s too cold and they believe English isn’t spoken there’
Home Office sources have briefed the press that they are struggling to convince Afghan refugees to move to Wales because the refugees believe it is too cold and that people there don’t speak English.
The sources’ claims were to the Telegraph and PA Media.
A number of refugees had initially been reluctant to move to places such as Wales and Scotland because they believed English is not spoken there or it is too cold, Home Office sources told the news outlets.
Officials said they were working closely with families to encourage them to accept offers of accommodation and clear up any misconceptions.
Refugees from Afghanistan are still being housed in hotels at a cost of £1 million a day in the run-up to the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover.
Around 9,500 refugees are still living in hotels, one year on from the Taliban seizing power on August 15 last year.
Some 70 hotels are understood to still be in use at a daily cost of £1 million.
This is slightly down from 84 hotels which were previously being used, and it is understood officials are constantly looking at ways to drive down the cost.
In February, the Home Affairs Committee heard that the Government was spending £4.7 million a day housing asylum seekers in hotels, of which £1.2 million was being spent specifically on Afghan refugees.
Around 7,000 Afghanistan evacuees are said to have been moved into settled accommodation since arriving in the country.
Officials recognise that living in hotels for months is not the best situation for families, and are working to move them on to settled accommodation as quickly as possible.
Some 350 councils are understood to have pledged their support in housing refugees across the UK.
But it is said to be complex in terms of matching families with appropriate homes according to the size of the family, its needs and specific vulnerabilities, on top of wider, pre-existing pressures on the housing system.
In June, refugees minister Lord Richard Harrington wrote to councils saying he was determined to move refugees from Afghanistan out of hotel accommodation, and appealing for further help.
But he said that, as of the week commencing June 13, there were fewer than 100 properties available to match families with.
Lord Harrington said most of those in hotels were larger families and therefore needed properties with at least four bedrooms.
He said his department was reaching out to landlords, property developers, the wider private rented sector, including Rightmove, and educational establishments over properties which could be converted, to encourage further offers of homes.
Ahead of the one-year anniversary next Monday, officials have not provided a total for the number of people who have arrived in the UK from Afghanistan.
Instead, an update is due to be published within quarterly immigration statistics at the end of the month.
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