HONG KONGERS relocating to the UK are to be supported with a £43m scheme from the UK Government.
Robert Jenrick, the Communities secretary, said that British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders coming to live in the UK will be supported to integrate into the country with access to housing, work and education.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced last year that BNO passport holders would be welcome to come to the country amid the growing tensions between Hong Kong and China over changes to the judicial and political systems there.
Before the British government handed over Hong Kong in 1997, China agreed to allow the region considerable political autonomy for fifty years under a framework known as “one country, two systems.”
However since then Chinese officials have made a series of reforms which are seen by many Hong Kongers as attempts to erode the country’s freedoms.
Among them include the implementation of a controversial National Security law, effectively banning dissent or anti-government protest, as well as reformation of the country’s electoral system to ensure only ‘patriots’ are elected.
The UK Government has announced today that any BNO holders who come to Britain will be supported, with 12 virtual ‘welcome hubs’ set up across the country at a cost of £5m.
Scotland will be given a share of £5.8m to pass on to councils planning to accommodate BNO citizens, with English councils receiving a share of £30.7m.
Mr Jenrick said: “I want to extend a warm welcome to Hong Kongers arriving in the UK and reaffirm that this Government is doing everything in its power to ensure your success and happiness here.
“This programme will ensure British National (Overseas) status holders and their families have the very best start as soon as they arrive, and support to help them find a home, schools for their children, opportunity and prosperity.
“We are a champion of freedom and democracy and will live up to our responsibilities to the people of Hong Kong, so that these families will come to find the UK a place they can call home”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We promised to uphold freedom for the people of Hong Kong, which is why I am proud that we have been able to support so many people when they have needed our help.
“It’s an unprecedented and generous scheme and there is no other visa in the world of this nature. We are working hard to successfully resettle people here and recognise there is nothing more difficult than leaving your home to rebuild a life in a new country.
“I know communities up and down our country will welcome new arrivals with open arms and support them to build a new life in the UK.”