The Executive Director of Regeneration and Economic Development submitted a report to to update the Executive on the opportunity for Middlesbrough to secure a future for the North East Strategic Migration Partnership (NESMP) by accepting Home Office funding and leading on the delivery of a work programme for the region that meets Home Office requirements.
The report outlined that In recent years, Middlesbrough has seen an increase in the number of asylum seekers placed in the town through Government funded contracts awarded on a regional basis. The reasons for this include:
a. the lower value housing offer in parts of Middlesbrough make it cost effective for the contract holder to house people; and,
b. the landlord engaged as a sub-contractor has a significant property portfolio in Middlesbrough.
An asylum seeker is defined as someone who has lodged an application for protection on the basis of the Refugee Convention.
Although the overall economic and social impact of housing asylum seekers in Middlesbrough is largely unknown, it is clear that the area is now accommodating a greater number than Government guidance suggests.
The Government has identified that no local authority area should need to accommodate more than one asylum seeker per 200 of population. At present Middlesbrough is the only area in England exceeding this quota, with latest figures showing that the area is accommodating 982 asylum seekers - representing 142% of the Government prescribed limit.
The report stated that although information on the number of asylum seekers in an area is readily available, similar data on the number of economic migrants is harder to track, as there is no formal process of re-settlement, and therefore no central register of migrants. As with registered asylum seekers, the impact on the area of recent economic migration is also largely unknown, although it is clearly recognised that there needs to be a better understanding to allow informed tailoring of services or planning for future needs.
As a result of the identified issues with migration in the area, and the need to better understand the economic and social impact on the town, Middlesbrough has taken the lead in raising the issue with the Home Office - leading to an offer of funding to take forward a Strategic Migration Partnership.
The report gave information to the following issues: Strategic Migration Partnerships , Delivery and Funding and Understanding the Impact of Migration on the Town, further details of which were outlined in the report.
The report outlined that the options currently available were:
1. accept the funding and the leadership of the partnership; or,
2. reject the funding and instead pursue local solutions to migration issues.
As the opportunity presented by the Home Office funding enables Middlesbrough greater influence over the distribution of asylum seekers, it was proposed that this option would have a greater impact in the area.
During the meeting, a statement was read out on behalf of the Leader of the Conservative Party which made commments on the report.
That the Executive agrees that Middlesbrough Council should lead the North East Strategic Migration Partnership;
That the Executive agrees to accept the funding offered by the Home Office for the Strategic Migration Partnership for 2014/15 and beyond (subject to the on-going Government review);
That the Executive agrees responsibility for putting delivery arrangements in place be delegated to the Director of Economic Development and Communities; and,
That the Executive agrees to accept a further report on the economic and social impact of migration on the town.
The decisions were supporting reason:
Leading the North East Strategic Migration Partnership would give Middlesbrough Council a greater opportunity to understand the economic and social impact of migration on the town, and greater influence over the issue within the region.