Refugee integration - role of local authorities: key findings summary

Accessible summary of the key findings of the research commissioned by the Scottish Government to explore and assess the role of Scotland’s 32 local authorities in supporting the integration of refugees and people seeking asylum.



Since 2015, Scotland has welcomed a growing number of refugees and people seeking asylum, largely as a result of crises including the Afghan evacuation, the civil war in Syria and the Russian war against Ukraine.

Scotland’s local authorities (also known as councils) have played a very important role in providing support to refugees and people seeking asylum. They have had to adapt quickly to changing situations and they have learned a lot about what works well as a result.

In February 2022 Scottish Government and COSLA hired IPPR and IPPR Scotland to conduct research to gather some of the learning and understanding that Scottish local authorities have developed through their work with refugees, and record some of the challenges they have faced.

This work was developed as a part of the New Scots Refugee Integration Delivery Project. The results of the research are expected to help with making decisions about future work supporting refugee integration locally and nationally.

The research


The aims of the research were to:

Describe and review the ways Scottish local authorities have been supporting refugees and people seeking asylum.

Identify the opportunities and challenges that local authorities face in their work to support refugee integration.

Understand how Scottish and UK policy impacts on the work being done by Scottish local authorities.

Share clear findings that everyone can use, especially local authorities and decision-makers.


The research methods used in this study included:

An online survey of 103 people working in local authorities and partner organisations. This research happened between July and October 2022.

In-depth case studies looking at the work of three local authorities (Aberdeenshire, Dundee and Na h-Eileanan Siar) through focus groups and interviews with: people with high-level responsibility for refugee integration; people with direct experience of working with refugees and people seeking asylum; and with refugees and people seeking asylum themselves. This research happened between June and November 2022.

A policy workshop with local authority resettlement officers from across Scotland. This research happened in October 2022.



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