11% of British adults say they’d take a refugee into their home for six months – but people tend not to support their local council area housing 10 refugee families
The prime minister is expected to announce that the UK is prepared to accept thousand more refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war, after a picture published in this morning’s newspapers showed the body of a three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach. Before news of the increased effort emerged, David Cameron said: “Anyone who saw those pictures overnight could not help but be moved… We are taking thousands of people, and we will take thousands of people”. But as many look beyond the government for a solution – ours has taken fewer refugees than other European countries – a more personal campaign has begun.
A new website has launched in Germany which matches citizens willing to share their homes with refugees, and British groups have now offered to set up similar schemes.
New YouGov research finds that 11% of British people say they would agree to take a refugee from conflict zones in Syria, Afghanistan or other African countries into their home for six months. 75% say they would not and 14% are unsure.
21% of 18-24 year-olds say they would house a refugee, compared to 7% of over-60s.
Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper yesterday proposed a huge increase in the number of refugees Britain accepts – currently 750 each year, moving to 10,000 as per Cooper’s suggestion. If every local council area took in ten families, then in a month we’d have already met the target, she said.
41% of British people say they would support their own local council area housing ten refugee families, while 48% would oppose this. Only 16% strongly support the initiative, compared to 30% who strongly oppose it.
In Scotland, unlike other parts of Britain, a majority (54%) say they would support ten refugee families being housed in their own council area.
Angela Merkel has said she expects Germany to accept at least 800,000 asylum seekers this year, although the figure could reach one million. The Home Office says that since 2011 almost 5,000 Syrians have been given asylum in the UK, however this figure includes Syrians who were already living in the UK but unable to return because of the war. The UK is the second biggest donor of humanitarian aid, and has pledged £900m.