Following discussions in 2015/16 with all district housing authorities and within Kent County Council (KCC), it was agreed that KCC would coordinate the support provision for refugees resettled in Kent under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, with the exception of those to be settled in Ashford and Canterbury.
In order to respond in a timely manner to the need to resettle refugee families, KCC entered into grant agreements with providers that were able to provide the required support. It has been decided that the resettlement casework support provided to individual families and property set-up aspects of the scheme should now be formally commissioned in order to put the requirements of the scheme on a firm contractual basis, to give all potential providers the opportunity to bid and to ensure the specification covers all current and future refugee resettlement schemes.
At present the service is solely focused on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme (VPRS). However, it is the intention to include in the tender the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme (almost identical to the VPRS) for arrivals up to Spring 2020 and from then the new UK Resettlement Scheme which will absorb and extend the existing resettlement schemes going forward. Any future similarly arranged and funded schemes will also be covered by the tender. The proposed contract with providers will allow additional local authorities to be added if needed.
It is the intention to retain within KCC the coordination and management of the scheme and for the district housing authorities to remain, as now, responsible for decisions on the number of refugee families to be resettled and for the housing to be used.
The options considered for the delivery of the resettlement support included to maintain the status quo (that is to continue to use the existing three providers and to pay them via annual grants), to provide the support from an in-house KCC team, to devolve the responsibility and budget back to the districts or to externally commission the support (either via one external provider for the whole of Kent, via a Dynamic Purchasing System or via a Framework Contract with Lots according to geographical area).
Alignment with the Strategic Statement
The proposed decision will enable KCC to deliver support to resettled refugee families in Kent in a way that meets the objectives of each of the three strategic outcomes in the Council’s Strategic Statement (2015-2020).
Outcome 1 – Children and young people in Kent get the best start in life: almost all the families resettled through the scheme contain children and young people. They have all had to flee their country of origin following the witnessing of traumatic events; they have usually spent a few years in one of the countries surrounding Syria living an insecure existence where access to education, health care and other services is poor. Settling in Kent enables children and young people to have their needs fully assessed and addressed where at all possible, thus enabling them to dramatically improve their life chances.
Outcome 2 – Kent communities feel the benefits of economic growth by being in work, healthy and enjoying a good quality of life: a fundamental objective of the scheme is to enable all adults for whom it is appropriate, to access full-time employment and to eventually not require support from the benefits system. To this end the scheme supports English language and skills training to enable individual refugees to secure employment. The support is very tailored to individual needs as the cohort of refugees arrive with very varied levels of education, qualifications and skills (e.g. there are craftsmen, manual workers, architects, teachers, people skilled in the hospitality trade, care professions etc). In addition to benefitting the families themselves, the skills many of the refuges bring with them are a significant asset to the communities in which they are settled.
Outcome 3 – Older and vulnerable residents are safe and supported with choices to live independently: all the refuges are vulnerable to an extent, having experienced trauma and displacement. On top of this a significant proportion have physical and mental health problems that need addressing once they arrive in the UK. The support provided through the scheme enables them to access the services they require and to live as independently as possible in the community. To date none of the refugees have had to access residential care or, if children, been taken into care.
To commission via a competitive tender the refugee resettlement support service in Kent. Decisions about the commissioning process and the implementation of the new contracts to be delegated to the Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved (subject to call-in)
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 16/09/2019
Decision due: Not before 16th Oct 2019 by Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education
Reason: In order that the proposed decision can be published for a minimum of 28 days, in accordance with statutory requirements
Lead member: Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education
Lead director: Matt Dunkley CBE
Department: Education & Young People's Services
Contact: Christine Grosskopf, Policy Manager Tel: 03000 416181 Email: email@example.com.
Consultation has not taken place with the general public but has taken place with groups of the current cohort of refugees KCC is supporting, with the district housing authorities, with several voluntary groups and with current providers.
Cabinet Committee consultation:
A report on the matter was submitted to the CYPE Cabinet Committee on 1 October 2019
Have views been sought from local Members?
Views were sought and provided to the Cabinet Committee and Cabinet Member prior to the Key Decision.
Financial implications: The value of the contract across all providers (based on existing families and expected arrivals up to April 2020) is likely to be in the region of £1.5 to £2 million, with the possibility of an increased value of about £0.5 – £0.7 million for every ten new families resettled after April 2020, each of whom will then be supported for up to 5 years. This will be entirely funded by a secure ring-fenced Government grant that is attached to each individual refugee for the 5 years that they are supported under the scheme. The default position is for the Government funding to be provided to the responsible district housing authorities but within Kent this is now administered and managed by KCC on their behalf. There is no call on KCC or district main budgets and to date (since the beginning of the scheme in Kent in December 2015) spending on the scheme has not exceeded the available funds. It appears in the KCC Budget as a “net nil” budget.
Legal implications: The specification for the externally commissioned support will be fully compliant with the requirements of the Government Funding Instructions and will be commissioned in line with the general procurement regulations applicable to local authorities. The commissioning is supported by KCC Strategic Commissioning colleagues, with legal input (Invicta Law) where required.
Equalities implications: An Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) has been carried out and will be available for the Cabinet Committee on 1 October 2019. The scheme takes great care to ensure that the individual needs of the refugees (including needs based on any of the protected characteristics) are fully taken into account in the service provided to them.