LONDON – Following China’s imposition of new security laws in the former British colony, Britain has promised 43 million pounds (S$79.2 million) to assist people arriving from Hong Kong in finding employment, housing, and schools as part of an initiative enabling millions to resettle.
Due to an ongoing dispute with Beijing over Hong Kong reforms, Britain has opened its doors to potentially more than five million immigrants, allowing them to live, work, and ultimately apply for citizenship.The majority of the funds released on Thursday (April 8) would be invested by local governments on programs to assist newcomers with English language learning and housing costs.
The government will also open 12 virtual regional offices to assist with tasks such as healthcare and school registration.
These “Welcome Hubs” will also include information about how to start a company in the United Kingdom.
“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,” said communities minister Robert Jenrick.The United Kingdom claims that Chinese-imposed security laws and democratic reforms in Hong Kong have breached the terms of the 1997 agreement that saw the semi-autonomous city returned to China.
Ministers claim that the visa scheme is a way for them to keep their end of the bargain.
China has responded angrily to the bid, claiming that disinformation and a colonial hangover have clouded the West’s perceptions of its conduct in Hong Kong.
As of March 19, about 27,000 people had applied for the new visa since its launch in January.Despite the fact that total demand figures are unpredictable, the government anticipates between 258,000 and 322,000 applicants over the next five years.
The scheme is available to 2.9 million British Nationals (Overseas) and 2.3 million qualifying dependents who are British Nationals (Overseas).