Migrant crisis: Cost of resettling 50 Syrian refugees in Norfolk debated by councillors
- Credit: AP
The question of whether Norfolk can afford to pick up the bill to help resettle 50 Syrian refugees has come under the spotlight - but a final decision will rest with all 84 councillors.
Norfolk's councils agreed last year to accept the refugees in principle.
But officers are predicting a £400,000 shortfall between what the government is prepared to pay and the estimated cost of looking after the refugees.
As part of the British government's plan to resettle 20,000 refugees from the country's civil war in the next five years, Norfolk councillors had agreed in principle to house 50 in Norwich and Broadland.
However, Westminster is only willing to pay £1m towards their resettlement – leaving Norfolk and its taxpayers to make up the £400,000 shortfall.
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At a meeting of the council's policy and resources committee today, councillors agreed a decision should be made by full council.
It also agreed an amendment made by former Labour council leader George Nobbs for discussions with district councils and other organisations over covering the cost.
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Labour county councillor Steve Morphew said, regardless of the cost, the county should take the refugees - but should keep pressuring the government and other organisations for cash.
He said: 'It will either be a burden on our conscience or a burden on our funds. I'd rather have less money in our pockets.
'I think we should say we will accept our share and if it is a crisis then we need to sort it out.'
Conservative Roger Smith, chairman of the council's children's services committee said, on the subject of taking unaccompanied children, that his committee needed to carefully look at the impact of that.
He said the council already had a shortage of social workers, and those youngsters would need support.
His Conservative colleague Alison Thomas said she supported Norfolk taking the refugees, but added: 'We wouldn't want to bring then here and not have thought about how we manage their resettlement.'
UKIP's Michael Baker said the council should be strong enough to stand up to the government and insist that Whitehall covers the cost.
Cliff Jordan, Conservative leader of the council, said: 'I have never known Norfolk to turn against people in need in my life and I don't expect them to do so now.'
The issues will now come before the children's services committee and the full council.