Do groups get any support?
Reset provides advice and support to Groups at every stage of the Community Sponsorship process. This includes support in the application writing process, two part required training (organised by Reset before the refugee family arrives), application checking service as well as support with any challenges that Groups might encounter after the arrival of the family.
Moreover, each Community Sponsorship application needs to be submitted by a Lead Sponsor. The Home Office requires that each Lead Sponsor have a Charity or Community Interest Company (CIC) number. Some Groups decide to register as a charity themselves, but many others work with a larger charity, which acts as a Lead Sponsor. These organisations not only offer support to groups, but also take responsibility should things go wrong.
How is the Group’s work with resettled family monitored?
As part of the Community Sponsorship agreement with the Home Office, Groups agree to participate in follow up visits. Reset lead on these visits, accompanied by a member of the Home Office to help Groups ensure that their support obligations are being met. A representative of the Local Authority will also be invited to participate in the visits. We meet with both the group and family, using an independent interpreter supplied by Reset.
What if the refugee family needs support beyond 12 months?
It is very rare that the LA is required to step in and provide support beyond 12 months. In practice, we find that many groups decide to continue providing some kind of support to the resettled families who will have often formed strong bonds with their group, and also the wider community. If further support is required, it will be identified through the Post Arrival Support Visits and a managed handover will be agreed with Local Authority prior to the end of the sponsor agreement. At this stage the Local Authority can also start claiming additional funds from Home Office – in line with those available to families resettled through Local Authority programmes.
What happens in case of sponsorship breakdown?
The Home Office will work with the Group and the Lead Sponsor to do everything within reason to avoid the sponsorship breakdown. From January 2021, Lead Sponsors can be supported via the Community Sponsorship Backstop Fund to resolve challenges faced in supporting a group and the refugee family. Should the Group disband, the Lead Sponsor would be expected to put in place steps to continue the support of the family. If this is not sustainable or possible, the Local Authority may be asked to continue the support.
In the event that a sponsorship arrangement breaks down, an appropriate level of funding will be made available to the local authority, within the existing tariff structure, to provide the necessary support to the resettled family. It is intended that the Local Authority will not suffer financially.
How is housing for the family provided?
The Community Sponsorship Group is obligated to ensure that accommodation is made available to the family for 2 years. Most groups approach private landlords, some are able to secure housing association property, some even decide to purchase a property that is then rented out to the refugee family. A particular benefit of the scheme is that, especially in more expensive areas, Groups often find landlords who decide to offer their property for a lower rate than they would have received on an open market. As a result, the availability of affordable properties increases, even if ever so slightly. The Local Authority are invited to inspect the property to ensure it meets local housing standards and the area must be approved by the local police using the Home Office Police Consultation form.
What about housing beyond 2 years?
Groups are asked to start working on long term housing solutions for the refugee families as soon as they arrive to ensure that affordable, sustainable accommodation will be available for the family to live in.