You are here: Home » International » News
Business Standard

UK unveils package to support Hong Kong families escaping draconian law

The UK government has launched a 43 million pound package to help the new arrivals from Hong Kong with housing, education and employment

UK | Britain | China

ANI  |  Europe 

People detained by riot police during a march against national security law at the anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China from Britain in Hong Kong, China July 1, 2020. Photo: Reuters

The government has launched a 43 million pound (USD 59.6 million) package to support British National (Overseas) families that settle in the country, funding local councils nationwide to help the new arrivals from with housing, education and employment who are escaping the region since imposed the draconian security law.

According to South Morning Post (SCMP), the scheme, announced on Thursday, comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to four families that moved to the country on a special visa for those with BN(O) status last month.

Under the new integration programme, 30.7 million British Pounds will go to councils across England, to provide help for the arrivals, covering English language and housing support for those in need. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will deliver similar policies with a budget of 5.8 million British Pounds.

A further 5 million British Pounds will be used to establish 12 "virtual" welcome hubs across the country, with funding for projects such as local helplines giving advice and assistance on issues related to daily life, such as school admission, registering with a doctor, and starting a business.

SCMP further reported that The government will also provide dedicated educational resources for schools to teach pupils about the historic connection between and its former colony.

The UK introduced the new visa last year in response to Beijing's imposition of the repressive national security law on Hong Kong, an act London described as a breach of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, the agreement that paved the way for the city's handover in 1997.

The news outlet reported that close to 5.4 million Hongkongers out of the city's 7.5 million population are eligible under the visa programme to stay in for up to five years, with the right to work and study, and to apply for citizenship after six years. As of mid-March, the British government had received 27,000 applications since the scheme was launched in late January.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the government would live up to its responsibilities to the people of Hong Kong and do everything in its power to ensure their success and happiness in He also established an interministerial group which would consider issues including access to public services, opportunities and safety for new arrivals.

"This programme will ensure BN(O) 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," said Jenrick, who spoke with four Hong Kong families through a video call on Tuesday, as quoted by SCMP.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the scheme was another important step in helping the new arrivals integrate and contribute to society. "It reflects our commitment to the people of Hong Kong - and those who have now chosen to start a new life here," he added.

The visa's launch in January sparked a diplomatic row, with saying it would stop recognising BN(O) passports as travel and identification documents. Beijing also accused Britain of "obstinately and repeatedly hyping up the BN(O) passport issue to interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China's internal affairs".

The national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong criminalises any act of secession (breaking away from China), subversion (undermining the power or authority of the central government), terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with punishments of up to life in prison. It came into effect from July 1.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Thu, April 08 2021. 07:29 IST