Like everyone, I have been horrified at the scenes from Afghanistan in recent weeks and months.
There is strong feeling across the political spectrum that Afghan nationals who provided support to UK forces and civilian programmes should be able to come to the UK safely and be able to live here without fear.
Many are calling on the Government to speed up efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the many thousands of men, women and children who have been displaced.
“I know councils will work with our voluntary sector and national government partners to ensure Afghan refugees get the support they need”
The UK Government should quickly provide safe and legal routes for Afghan refugees fleeing dangerous and chaotic circumstances triggered by the withdrawal of military support from Afghanistan.
Councils have a proud history of offering sanctuary to those in need. More than 1,600 Afghan locally employed staff who have worked for British military forces and the British embassy have already started arriving with their families through the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy, and a growing number of councils have committed to welcoming and supporting them.
I know councils will work with our voluntary sector and national government partners to ensure Afghan refugees get the support they need to recover and rebuild their lives.
But new schemes must be fully funded, so that councils that take the right decision to offer local places can do so with confidence they won’t need to divert funds from other important areas of work.