**June 2020 Update: we've worked with the Home Office to develop a template Local Authority consent form for your Local Authority to fill out. You can download the form on the right hand-side of this page**
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 relevant 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 the appropriate consent from Local Authorities. In the very unlikely event that a sponsor agreement breaks down, the Local Authority will have to step in to support the resettled family. All Local Authorities will be risk-aware of the impact on their own resources so groups are advised to start the process of engaging with their Local Authority as soon as possible. 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 ‘consent’ mean?
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
- Confirm that the accommodation you will be providing the resettled family meets local housing standards
- Attend a pre-approval visit 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 Visits once the family have arrived
Find your Local Authority
You can find your Local Authority on the gov.uk website
It’s important to 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.
Understanding your Local Authority
There are many types of Local Authorities who work differently and it’s important to create a relationship with the ones you will work with. Find out more about how Local Authorities work on the Local Government Association website.
Building a positive relationship with your Local Authority
It’s important to remember that Local Authority Officers and teams are very 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 what the make up of your group is; the Local Authority will want to make sure that all eventualities are covered, should they need to step in. Make sure that your Local Authority knows that no sponsorship project has broken down.
A note on language
Groups have shared with us that they sometimes feel that they are not being taken seriously by their Local Authority or that they do not feel that the work of a group is important. This is certainly not the case. Local Authorities work in a certain way and what 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.
Now that Community Sponsorship has been in operation for 4 years, an increasing number of Local Authorities are getting involved and may have a known approval process – do speak to the Reset team to find out what’s happening in your area.