Bob Geldof's refugee offer 'pie in the sky', says British councillor

Bob Geldof's refugee offer 'pie in the sky', says British councillor

Bob Geldof’s offer to give a home to Syrian refugees is “pie in the sky” and councils need more resources from the British Government to house those fleeing the conflict, a council chief has warned.

Geldof said he felt “profound shame” at the growing refugee crisis and has offered to put up families in his homes in Kent and London.

But David Simmonds, from the Local Government Association (LGA) in England, said he doubted if the musician turned aid campaigner’s plan to take in four families was practicable.

Mr Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s Asylum, Migration and Refugee Task Group, told the Press Association: “Unfortunately I think it is a bit pie in the sky.

“If Bob Geldof is willing to make that offer I’m sure his local council, which will already have a lot of people on its housing waiting list, will be very happy to bring them around this afternoon.”

He praised the generosity of the British public, who have donated hundreds of thousand of pounds to charity aid appeals and have collected food, clothes, tents and even offered up a room in their homes to refugees.

But Mr Simmonds said the reality is that it costs many millions to house and support asylum seekers while their applications are being processed.

And while he said Britons are very kind-hearted to offer their homes, he cast doubt over whether people are willing to support refugees for the years it often takes for applications to be decided.

He said: “To put it in context, one of the appeals was very impressive in that it raised £200,000 in 24 hours. But that is roughly what England’s councils spend in a day supporting households whose asylum applications have been refused, never mind the rest.

“The cost of providing the services we would need to provide is clearly very significant. Generous offers are very good, but if it takes several years to process somebody’s asylum application that person is not allowed to work.

“Are those people who are opening those homes genuinely willing to have a stranger from a war-torn country living in their house potentially for three or four years while a decision is made about whether they will be allowed to stay?”

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