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Extra funds need for asylum support

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
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Extra funds need for asylum support

DUMFRIES and Galloway Council will issue a plea to the UK’s Home Secretary for more financial support to look after asylum seekers.

It was last week agreed that council leader Gail Macgregor will write to Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack about the local authority’s lack of resources to deal with supporting hundreds of asylum seekers.

Abbey Councillor Kim Lowe tabled a motion at last week’s full council meeting which underlined how this region is playing its part in giving shelter to asylum seekers, but is bearing the heavy responsibility with no support from Westminster.

This comes after 57 asylum seekers arrived at the Mercure Hotel on the outskirts of Dumfries last month, having been sent there by the Home Office and its third party agency Mears.

There are now more than 500 asylum seekers – Syrian, Afghan, and Ukrainian – spread across the region. The administration and support provided by Dumfries and Galloway Council has placed strain on its already-stretched social work department.

Councillor Lowe argued that councillors must lobby the Westminster Government to compensate Dumfries and Galloway Council so that this extra care for asylum seekers becomes cost neutral.

Speaking at last week’s meeting, she spoke about already-overstretched local services being put under “immeasurable strain”, with staff having to be taken from vital frontline duties to deal with a variety of scenarios.

Councillor Lowe added: “At the end of the year, we have to return a set of balanced accounts. And that is why we are seeking compensation – so that the additional work in respect of the asylum seekers does not jeopardise that position and we can still deliver frontline services to our residents.”

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