What risks are there in Community Sponsorship?

It’s so important to be upfront about the risks associated with Community Sponsorship. When you are considering your consent process, this is something you will want to take into account. 

It’s important to keep in mind that of the  many hundreds of refugees welcomed by Community Sponsorship Groups in the UK, the relationship between the Group and the family has not broken down a single time.  The outcomes for both the resettled refugees and for the community groups that support them have been overwhelmingly successful and positive.  In a very small minority of cases (1%), the Local Authority has assumed the responsibility for supporting resettled refugees but this has never been as a result of a sponsor Group’s inability to provide support.   

Whilst this is not exhaustive, you can find below an outline of some of the risks and the mitigation factors that are built into the programme.

Risk Identified

Mitigating factor

Community Sponsorship Group have breakdown of relationship with family

  • Rigorous application and security checking process from the Home Office

  • Group is headed up by a Lead Sponsor – a charity who take on the responsibility for resettlement

  • Ongoing post-arrival support from Reset and the Home Office

  • A relationship breakdown of this type has not been experienced

  • If, for any reason, a Sponsor Group is unable to fulfil its obligations, the local authority will be reimbursed for the support costs during years 1 and 2.

  • From January 2021, Lead Sponsors are able to apply to the Community Sponsorship Backstop Fund. Through a generous donation from the Shapiro Foundation, Lead Sponsors will be able to access emergency funding should a breakdown between group and family occur providing charities with resources to resolve unforeseen circumstances

Group not prepared for resettling a family

  • Groups attend required training

  • Ongoing advice service from Reset

  • Community Sponsorship is a UK wide movement with connections between Groups and those providing support

  • Rigorous assessment of the application by the Home Office

Community Sponsorship Groups use housing stock the LA could access

  • 64% of Groups found housing through private landlords, 22% through purchasing and 14% through personal connection with Housing Associations

The family allocated to the Group will not be suitable

  • The Local Authority must approve the family who are allocated to the Group

The resettled family will place extra demand on local authority funding

  • Local Authorities will be able to claim educational costs for the families supported

  • CCGs and Health Boards will be able to claim for healthcare provision

  • If the Local Authority incurs social care costs they are able to make a claim for exceptional funds from the Home Office

The Local Authority will be expected to support the family after year 2

  • Outside of those with additional support needs, this is extremely rare. 

  • In the occurrence of ongoing support being required, the Home Office will consider making the Local Authority tariff available to the Local Authority for years 3-5

The Local Authority will be expected to find housing for the family after 2 years

  • Part of the application to become a Community Sponsor deals with what will happen with housing after the initial 24 months, and Groups work with families to identify opportunities should they need to move on

Unrealistic expectations will be created for what the Local Authority can deliver

  • You will work with the Group to be clear what you can assist with

  • The Sponsor Agreement between the Group and the Home Office sits with a charity – a Lead Sponsor – not the Local Authority, and the obligation for successful resettlement sits with them

Community Sponsorship will run counter to our own resettlement programme

  • Local Authorities have worked with Community Sponsorship Groups to outline the support the Group offer and how to address this, in order to avoid creating a ‘two-tier’ system of resettlement.  You might ask the Group to not pay a housing top up, or to explain to resettled families why this programme is different. 

  • Resettlement is different between Local Authorities and across the UK – this is ok, and expectations will need to be managed anyway

  • Some Groups provide support to families resettled by the Local Authority, as well as the family they are supporting

There may be political opposition to resettlement locally

  • The Local Authority will determine their own sign off procedures taking into account local political issues/concerns

We haven’t done any form of refugee resettlement

  • Don’t worry! There are a number of Local Authorities in the UK in exactly the same position who have successfully navigated this.  Reset, and your Strategic Migration Partnership can help you navigate this process.