Explaining the money allocation

Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Programme:
How is the government’s money allocated?

Prepared by Marc Eisenstadt, Treasurer, Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes Treasurer with Milton Keynes Council input from Jeremy Beake, Refugee Programme Manager at Milton Keynes Council

Updated: 6th November, 2017

We’ve broken this down into three main section to provide come crucial context.  Section 1 describes the overview numbers provided in the UK government fact sheet, then in Section 2 we refine that based on a report from the UK’s National Audit Office.  Finally, Section 3 provides a kind of ‘reality check’ showing how the Milton Keynes Council deals with the ‘tapering’ of funding in later years.

1. The UK government fact sheet about the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme* can be found at


(follow the main ‘Document’ link for a downloadable PDF document, updated 21 July 2017)

That document explains the following in answer to the question ‘What funding arrangements are in place?’

  • The first 12 months of a refugee’s resettlement costs are fully funded by central government using the overseas aid budget. The Government has also provided an additional £10m ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) funding to enhance the English language skills of adults to improve their resettlement and integration experience and employability.
  • For years 2-5 of the scheme there is £129m of funding available to assist with costs incurred by local authorities providing support to refugees under the VPRS. This is allocated on a tariff basis over four years, tapering from £5,000 per person in their second year in the UK, to £1,000 per person in year five. There is also an exceptional cases fund to assist the most vulnerable refugees. This is a substantial level of funding which enables local authorities to support these vulnerable people as they rebuild their lives in safe and secure surroundings, among supportive communities in the UK.

*The programme itself is inconsistently labelled in various government documents, since the word ‘Person’ is used in the title in some documents, and ‘Persons’ in others; ‘Programme’ is used in some documents, and ‘Scheme’ in others; ‘Syrian’ is used in some documents but not in others; and capitalisation of every word in the title is used in some documents, whereas only the first word is capitalised in others.  Consequently, abbreviations also vary, since ‘VPR’, ‘VPRS’ and ‘SVPRS’ have been used by different authors in their official capacities to refer to the same programme/scheme. 

2. More details are provided in a document dated September 2016 from the National Audit Office with pertinent discussion (eg the challenge of finding enough properties and school places) The report can be found by following the ‘Full Report’ link at


Page 20 of that document states the following:

Funding for local authorities

2.12 The programme is the first in the UK to provide financial support to refugees after their first year in the UK. Local authorities can claim a total of £20,520 per refugee over their first five years in the UK regardless of when they enter the programme …  This funding is expected to cover local authorities’ costs of providing support and services to refugees during their first year in the UK, and to contribute to these costs during the refugees’ second to fifth year. The tariff is split by year and reduces each year the refugee is in the UK: 

• Year one £8,520 per refugee;
• Year two £5,000 per refugee;
• Year three £3,700 per refugee;
• Year four £2,300 per refugee; and
• Year five £1,000 per refugee.

3. The Milton Keynes Council has provided some additional details pertinent to the RWMK context:

The council works within yearly budgets and manages resources as needed in anticipation of the ‘tapering’ across the five years, as described in the preceding section.  In particular, costs for Housing, ESOL and support do not cover a five year period (housing costs alone could reach over £100,000 per household). So naturally, it is necessary either to ensure that demand drops over time or that arriving families take increasing control after year one.

So the phrase ‘fully funded’ in section 1, which is easily misunderstood, means in reality that locally the programme has the following constraints:

  • The government funds the programme through Milton Keynes Council. The funds cover all expenses in year one, but crucially not year five
  • A budget has been prepared that covers all 8 years of the expected programme
  • Due to local house prices, funds need to be managed closely and extra help is sought where and whenever possible
  • This situation is exasperated by benefit caps and inadequate local housing allowances
  • The programme guarantees housing support for the first 3 years, relying on any surplus from year one to fund subsequent years
  • The funding model therefore welcomes the extra voluntary help provided and requires the speedy transition of refugee adults into self-sufficiency

Given the above constraints, estimates of the expenditure of funds over the 5-year period of support are as follows – note that these are rough budget estimates:

  • 55% Housing (Direct Support)
  • 20% Support workers
  • 15% (English Language courses ‘ESOL’) & Employment/Benefit Support
  • 9% Other, including travel, interpretation and first setup
  • 1% Programme Management