Islington signs deal to secure homes for Afghan refugees

British nationals and Afghan evacuees depart a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton.

British nationals and Afghan evacuees depart a flight from Afghanistan at RAF Brize Norton on August 17. - Credit: PA

Islington is the first borough to secure a grant from City Hall's Right to Buy Back scheme to secure long-term housing for Afghan refugees.

The council has agreed the deal to bring 80 homes back into council ownership - including 20 family-sized homes, with three or four bedrooms, for Afghan refugees.

Neither City Hall nor the council would disclose the grant's value, because of "competition rules", but the amount will be revealed in City Hall's accounts next year. 

The Right to Buy-back fund was established this year to give boroughs the funds to purchase former council homes that have been sold into the private market through the Government’s Right to Buy programme. 

The homes will then made available to those on boroughs’ council home waiting lists.

In August, as thousands of Afghans fled the advancing Taliban, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced the scheme would be expanded to allow councils to buy homes to resettle families arriving from Afghanistan, with increased funding for family-sized homes purchased through the programme.

The homes are being sold on the open market and are expected be purchased shortly.

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In a statement, Islington's housing chief, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, said: “Islington has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to people in need, and we stand ready to help Afghan refugees in every way we can.

“We also want to accommodate as many households facing homelessness in our borough as possible, and make sure everyone has a place to call home, which is secure, decent and genuinely affordable.

“These homes will make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of people.” 

Mr Khan added: "The crisis in Afghanistan was devastating to watch and left many of us questioning what we could do to help. To see our city providing a home for those who have been dispossessed, giving security and safety to those who have lost so much, makes me proud to be a Londoner.

“But the hard work is just beginning and I look forward to hearing more proposals from more councils to emulate Islington’s work. 

"I’d also like to see Ministers replicate the ‘Right to Buy-back’ offer right across the country, helping councils and housing associations purchase more much-needed homes."

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