North to bear brunt of Cameron’s 20,000 Syrian refugees with south east barely affected
DAVID Cameron’s promise to take in 20,000 Syrian immigrants will spark a deep North/South divide across Britain with a single working class northern town taking more refugees than the entire affluent South East region.
Exclusive research by Express.co.uk indicates the town of Rochdale would take in 651 migrants alone - twice the amount of the whole of the south east of England.
Neighbouring Oldham would receive 413 and just five cities in the north are braced to take in more than a third of those new asylum seekers.
By contrast, entire counties in wealthier areas of Britain will barely welcome a single migrant.
And the reason is simple economics – it is much cheaper to house migrants in the poorer areas of the north than the south, where rents are so much higher.
Express.co.uk has examined where Britain's 30,000 refugees are currently living, to show where the latest asylum seekers are likely to end up.
By examining the proportion of refugees claiming financial support in every council area in Britain between January and March of this year, we have calculated how many people would be housed in each local authority if the same allocation system was used.
EXPRESS Thousands of Syrian refugees could be headed to just a few northern towns
Home Office figures show that one region in particular - the north-west of England - is home to a staggering one quarter of all the asylum seekers in Britain.
If the current patterns of refugee allocation continue, just under half of Mr Cameron's 20,000 Syrian refugees will end up living in the north of England.
Cllr Jim McMahon, the leader of Oldham Council, said that refugees are being housed in northern towns and cities because rents for accommodation are cheaper than in the south.
In a scathing attack on David Cameron’s Government he called the current allocation system "broken" and urged the Government to consider the impact that homing large numbers of refugees has on local communities.
EXPRESS The north looks set to take a disproportionate number of the 20,000 Syrian refugees
If government fails, they fail us all
Oldham Council leader Jim McMahon
He said: "It’s clear that the Prime Minister is being heavily influenced by concerns that ‘Britain can’t take any more’ but frankly I’d be amazed if the senior civil servants, Home Secretary or Mr Cameron himself have any understanding of the real situation on the ground.
"Little or no regard is given to the impact from the moment new arrivals move in – in terms of ongoing costs to vital local support services, like schools and GPs – or the impact on the neighbourhood.
"The prime concern of the bean counters is to get this done as cheaply as possible and housing costs represent a significant part of the bill from accepting asylum seekers.
"We know that when unmanaged and not properly understood, community change of any kind can lead to tensions which affect both the area hosting the new arrivals and those seeking safe refuge themselves.
"If government fails, they fail us all."
Staggeringly just four towns within a few miles of each other - Bolton, Liverpool, Rochdale and Manchester - would become home to 2,903 refugees alone.
In comparison the south east of England looks set to receive a tiny number of the Syrian refugees - possible as few as 333.
Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk has called on David Cameron to address the stark imbalance in the current system.
He said: "The Government needs to ensure that the whole country does its fair share.
"Since 2012, when the contract for managing the distribution of asylum seekers was handed to Serco, the number of asylum seekers in the North West has risen by 50% but fallen by 20% in London.
"Rochdale supports more than 1,000 asylum seekers. For years the town has been used as a dumping ground for vulnerable people that other towns don’t want to deal with. David Cameron talks of honouring our 'moral responsibilities' but even in times of crisis his constituency does not provide shelter to a single asylum seeker.
"This unequal distribution is neither fair nor sustainable and needs to be addressed."
The Home Office currently uses private contractor Serco to home people seeking asylum in Britain, but not those who have already been granted refugee status.
It is not yet clear whether or not the company will be used to allocate the 20,000 Syrians Mr Cameron has promised sanctuary to.
Responding to accusations that the current system is unfair, the Prime Minister said that it was devised by the last Labour government to take pressure off the south east of England.
He said: "Asylum seekers are housed where there is available and appropriate accommodation, based on voluntary agreements between Government and participating local authorities.
"The legislation was introduced to relieve the pressures on local authorities in the South East of England which had previously shouldered a disproportionate number of asylum seekers given their proximity to the main ports of entry."