THIRTY more Syria refugees could be coming to Southend in the next two years at a cost of more than £25,000 a year.

Currently, nine refugees, who arrived in 2016, are housed in the district.

However, Southend Council said it is struggling to put the support in place for the refugees as they do not have the funding available.

A solution to be discussed at the next cabinet meeting on Tuesday is to take in an extra 30 refugees, as this would open up more funding availability which can be pooled to support all refugees.

They would be given housing and access to education, healthcare and other services.

The cost for 30 families would by £255,600 for the first year, and £360,000 in total for the next five years, which would be funded by government.

Council documents also include a projection for taking in 50 more refugees, with projected costs of a total of £426,000 for the first three years.

The report reads: "The proposal to extend the council’s current involvement in the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement (SYVP) Programme is made on the basis of the continuing need for a humanitarian response to the ongoing crisis in Syria.

"The government continues to pursue its commitments under the SVPR Programme and to seek the support of local authorities in this regard. Should the council extend its offer to an additional 30 individuals it would receive significant additional future funding in order to meet the demands of the Programme.

"At current levels of government investment this is understood to be £615k over the next 5 years.

"With the additional investment it is believed that the Programme in Southend would be more sustainable and have greater capacity to meet the support and integration needs of the individuals that relocate here.

"It is therefore proposed that the Director of Adult Services and Housing is authorised to reach agreement with government bodies with a view to extending the programme locally."

The document also praises the local community for its work in welcoming and supporting the refugees.

It adds that more than 500 voluntary hours have been donated by voluntary groups - which would be worth at least £3,750 - with befriending and welcome events establishing a relationships between the refugees and members of the community.

The report reads: "It should be noted that without involvement from these groups and especially church groups we would not have been able to bring any families to Southend. In addition, and most importantly, the families have expressed their gratitude in being resettled in Southend."

Councillor Lesley Salter, cabinet member for healthy communities and wellbeing, said: “None of us could be anything but deeply moved by the awful scenes of Syrian refugees fleeing war from 2014 onwards. It was clear when the programme was announced, and it is still clear now that we need to offer our small but not insignificant support to this humanitarian crisis. It is the right and humane thing to do and I think local people expect us to continue to show leadership and respond accordingly to this.

“Fortunately, there really are many positive stories to tell locally. From the excellent progress being made by children in local schools, to the momentum that this has given us to work closely with community organisations, faith communities and commissioned services to instil greater community cohesion.

“It should be noted that without involvement from the local community, volunteers and especially church groups we would not have been able to bring any families to Southend. In addition, and most importantly, the families have expressed their overwhelming gratitude at being resettled in Southend-on-Sea.

“Welcoming more Syrian families to Southend will provide more support to the existing Syrian community, reduce isolation and provide the funding for us to be able to provide better support services to them.”