Immigration minister’s claims about refugees in Scotland need clarification

4 July 2023
What was claimed

The SNP does not house refugees in Scotland.

Our verdict

If this refers to the number of refugees housed in Scotland, then we don’t have location data for many refugees who have been resettled in the UK. The limited data we do have shows that since 2014, Scotland has resettled at least 3,854 refugees.

What was claimed

The SNP does not welcome asylum seekers.

Our verdict

If this refers to the number of asylum seekers housed in Scotland, then as of 31 March 2023, 5,086 asylum seekers were in receipt of support from local authorities in Scotland. This is proportionally fewer than the number in receipt of support from local authorities across the UK as a whole.

“I am delighted that the hon. Lady celebrated Refugee Week. I do not know if any refugees came to it, because the SNP does not house refugees in Scotland.”

In Parliament last week, immigration minister Robert Jenrick responded to a question from SNP MP Alison Thewliss about the government’s illegal migration bill by saying that “the SNP does not house refugees in Scotland”.

He added: “If they cared about this issue, they would welcome asylum seekers into their own part of the UK, but they do not.”

The Home Office declined to comment directly on what Mr Jenrick meant by this, but if he was referring to the number of refugees or asylum seekers being housed in Scotland, where the SNP has been in government since 2011, this clearly isn’t true.

Earlier this year we wrote about a similar claim made by Mr Jenrick that devolved administrations such as Scotland “fail to take their fair share” of refugees.

Although we don’t know exactly how many refugees are resettled in Scotland, it is not true that none are housed in the country, as Mr Jenrick claimed.

It is also not true that Scotland does not house any asylum seekers, though data for 2022 shows that Scotland houses proportionally fewer asylum seekers relative to its population than England.

Ministers should correct false or misleading claims made in Parliament as soon as possible in keeping with the Ministerial Code which states that they should correct ‘any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity’.

Honesty in public debate matters

You can help us take action – and get our regular free email

I’m in

Refugees in Scotland

As we’ve explained before, we don’t have data on what part of the UK many refugees settle in (including most of those resettled under schemes specifically for Afghan citizens, who accounted for the majority of resettled refugees arriving in the UK last year, and former asylum seekers who have been granted refugee status). 

That means we can’t say for certain how many refugees are living in Scotland, or indeed in other parts of the UK.

However, of those refugees for whom we do have location data, since 2014, Scotland has resettled 3,854 from various refugee resettlement schemes.

In addition, as of 31 March 2023 at least 24,050 Ukrainians have arrived in Scotland under the Homes for Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (this does not include Ukrainians who have arrived under the separate Family Reunion Scheme, for which we’ve not seen location data).

Asylum seekers in Scotland

Data published by the Home Office shows that, as of 31 March 2023, 5,086 asylum seekers were in receipt of support from local authorities in Scotland (including local authorities run by the SNP).

This figure includes 577 asylum seekers being housed in hotels.

Image courtesy of Chris McAndrew

We deserve better than bad information.

After publishing this fact check, we contacted Robert Jenrick to request a correction to these claims. 

Mr Jenrick has not yet made a correction.

It’s not good enough.

Will you add your name for better standards in public debate?

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.