The Mayor of London has announced Islington is the first borough to secure funding from the Right to Buy Back scheme to secure long-term housing for Afghan refugees.

The north London borough has agreed a deal to bring 80 homes back into council ownership, including 20 family-sized homes for Afghan refugees.

Sadiq Khan’s Right to Buy-back fund was established earlier this year to give boroughs the funds to purchase former council homes that have been sold into the private market through the Government’s Right to Buy programme.

These homes are then made available to those on boroughs’ council home waiting lists.

In late August, as thousands of Afghans fled the advancing Taliban, the Mayor announced he was expanding his new Right to Buy-back fund to help councils buy homes that can be used to resettle families arriving from Afghanistan.

The Mayor is also looking to expand access to a range of fully funded language courses for Afghans who have settled into the UK on either the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) or Afghanistan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) through the Adult Education Budget.

From this year, the Mayor is also planning to fully fund all eligible asylum seekers to access training including in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). This will provide much needed support to help refugees discover more about their new homes and to re-build their lives in London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “I am delighted that Islington councillors have taken this swift, bold action to change the lives of Afghan refugees seeking sanctuary in their borough.

“The crisis in Afghanistan was devastating to watch and left many of us questioning what we could do to help. To see our city providing a home for those who have been dispossessed, giving security and safety to those who have lost so much, makes me proud to be a Londoner.

“But the hard work is just beginning and I look forward to hearing more proposals from more councils to emulate Islington’s work. I’d also like to see Ministers replicate the ‘Right to Buy-back’ offer right across the country, helping councils and housing associations purchase more much-needed homes.

“Resettlement goes beyond just housing and I stand ready to work with Government to ensure London boroughs and community organisations have the support necessary to help Afghan arrivals establish a long-term future in our open and welcoming city.”

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Housing and Development, said: “Islington has a long and proud history of offering sanctuary to people in need, and we stand ready to help Afghan refugees in every way we can.

“We also want to accommodate as many households facing homelessness in our borough as possible, and make sure everyone has a place to call home, which is secure, decent and genuinely affordable.

“Thanks to the Mayor of London’s Right to Buy-back fund, we’ll buy 80 family-sized homes in Islington to help local families facing homelessness and refugees from Afghanistan. These homes will make a huge difference to the lives of hundreds of people.”