Statement: Scottish Refugee Council faces major funding cuts

Scottish Refugee Council, along with other refugee agencies across the UK, has have been informed by the UK Border Agency that we face major cuts in funding to our services from 1 April 2011.

The grant to our One Stop Service, which offers advice to asylum seekers and refugees from our headquarters in Glasgow, will be cut by 62%, and that the grant for our orientation and support services for people who have just arrived in the city will be halved.

Additionally, the contract for our Refugee Integration and Employment Service (RIES), which helps refugees to settle in Scotland, will not be extended beyond its current end date of 30 September 2011. These cuts are echoed across the UK, meaning that in effect there will no longer be any UK government funding to assist new refugees to integrate in the UK.

John Wilkes, Chief Executive of Scottish Refugee Council, said: "Savage cuts to the refugee charity sector will force people who have already fled torture, conflict and persecution in their own countries to suffer even further while seeking safety in the UK.

 "This is unacceptable. Asylum seekers and refugees depend on the specialist services and expertise of refugee charities to enable them to rebuild their lives.

 "Despite urging the government to reduce the unprecedented scale of these cuts, and to give us more time to implement the changes, we are extremely disappointed that cuts at a local and national level to our vital services will nevertheless go ahead as planned.

“We understand these are challenging times, but we are gravely concerned cuts this deep will not only devastate the organisations that provide asylum seekers with a lifeline, but will a have a serious and lasting impact on the wider voluntary and public sector.

“Sixty years on from the UN Convention for Refugees, which has saved countless lives, it is imperative our government continues to protect those seeking refuge in the UK today. They must do this by ensuring the organisations that support them can carry on with their life-changing work.”

We are currently working out what these cuts in funding could mean for the crucial services we offer refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland. We will have a clearer picture of what future services may look like in the coming weeks, and we will keep all of our clients and members informed.

Read our news story on the cuts