MORE than 30 Somerset properties will be purchased with public money to provide safe homes for refugees.

The government’s local authority housing fund (LAHF) provides capital funding to local councils, allowing them to purchase accommodation for refugees coming to the UK under official resettlement schemes.

Somerset Council has been provided with £3.5m of LAHF funding, which it is using to purchase 31 properties to house refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine.

These properties will eventually be re-let to people on the council’s housing lets once the refugees have left or relocated to a different part of the country.

The funding was confirmed in a report which came before the council’s tenants’ strategic group when it met in Taunton on January 22.

A spokesman said: “The housing service is leading the acquisition of 31 homes in the county. These properties will be let to refugees for the first tenancy with flexibility for future years to let as general need homes.

“The homes are 100 per cent funded by the LAHF and other subsidy available to the council.

“To date ten homes have been purchased with nine more in conveyancing.”

The council has not confirmed the precise locations of any of the properties, but did say the homes would be urban areas to ensure refugees could easily access local services.

A spokesman said: “The 31 properties across Somerset are predominantly in the urban areas of the larger settlements. We can’t provide precise locations for security reasons.

“The majority of homes are houses with only a small number being flats. Houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) are not being used for this project.

“This is a government scheme and they have prioritised Ukrainian and Afghan households at this time. The government has provided £3.5m of LAHF funding and given the council a target of 31 properties for the same number of households.

“The government has requested that the first let will be for the displaced families. These families can continue to live in these homes until such time as they choose to move or their right to remain in the UK changes.

“Any subsequent lets will be offered through the normal process to Somerset residents.”

The council is currently constructing new social housing within Taunton (as part of its flagship North Taunton Woolaway regeneration programme) and at Seaward Way in Minehead.

Each completed property within these sites will be offered via Homefinder with priority being given to people with a strong connection to the local area (e.g. a family member).

A spokesman said: “We will complete construction of 47 new homes in Taunton and eight in Minehead by early-April.

“Homes in Sedgemoor has forecast another 55 new home completions for the same period.”