Guidance for groups on gaining local authority consent
Community Sponsorship is a partnership involving your group, the Home Office and your Local Authority (or Local Authorities if you are in a two-tier authority area).
Not only will your Local Authority be able to signpost you to local services and organisations who will be able to provide assistance, but they must give their consent for your application to be submitted for consideration. The Home Office will not consider any application without consent from Local Authorities. In the unlikely event that a sponsor agreement breaks down and you are no longer able to support a family, the Local Authority will have to step in to support the resettled family. If you would like assistance in contacting your Local Authority, Reset are on hand to help both you and your Local Authority to navigate the consent process.
What does the Local Authority do?
Local Authorities are not asked to approve your application; this responsibility lies with the Home Office. They will need to complete the consent form to confirm that they give their consent for your application to be considered. This will mean that they:
- Agree that you can resettle a refugee family in your community
- Will put you in contact with the Safeguarding Team at your Local Authority – they will need to be given the opportunity to comment on your Safeguarding Policy
- Be invited to confirm that the accommodation you will be providing the resettled family meets local housing standards
- Attend a pre-approval meeting with you and the Home Office
- Will be aware of the funding that is available to be claimed from the Home Office
- Agree to the resettled family moving to your area once you have been approved. You will also need to accept the resettled family
- Local Authorities will also be invited to attend Post Arrival Support Meetings once the family have arrived
When should we contact the Local Authority?
We recommend making contact with your local authority once you have decided that you are applying, you know who your Lead Sponsor will be and after you have attended the Reset Part 1: Preparing your application training.
Find your Local Authority
You can find your Local Authority on the gov.uk website
Please note that you require the consent from the Local Authority in which the property you find is based; this might be different from where your Group is. If you are applying for approval-in-principle without a property, it’s advised that you seek consent from the local authority where you are mostly likely to find accommodation.
Building a positive relationship with your Local Authority
It’s important to remember that Local Authority Officers and teams are overstretched and working across multiple areas of work so it may take some time for the right person to get back to you. Do try to make it as easy as possible for them to provide their consent, showing them the work that you are doing, what your plans are, and what you need from them. Don’t be surprised if you are asked questions on your work and how your group is structured; the Local Authority will want to make sure that all eventualities are covered, should they need to step in.
Contacting your local authority
Speak to Reset to find out if there is a contact in the council to provide consent
Contact the local authority and ask:
- What the consent process will be – who in the Local Authority will need to give their consent?
- What would they like from the group – would you like to meet us at this stage, or see us once we have our application form at a more complete stage?
- What the likely timescales for consent will be
- If applicable, As we are in a dual Local Authority area, what is the best way to work with both tiers of local government?
Don’t forget to let your Councillors in the area know about your plans, they can be a huge support to you; not only through supporting your work but in some areas, Councillors have made discretionary funds available to families, supported groups through social media and as your local representatives, they should know what’s happening in their area.
A note on language
Groups have shared with us that they sometimes feel that they are not being taken seriously by their Local Authority. This is certainly not the case. Local Authorities work in a certain way that may seem bureaucratic and rigid from the outside. Local Authorities across the UK are working incredibly hard and with great dedication to support and welcome refugees; they just may not always express this in the same way as you – for example, your Group may refer to the ‘families’ you support whereas the Local Authority may refer to ‘cases’. It’s just a different approach.
An increasing number of Local Authorities are getting involved and may have a known approval process. You can guide your contacts to the local authority toolkit which will walk them through the steps to providing consent.