POLITICS
06/09/2015 06:55 BST | Updated 06/09/2015 06:59 BST

Nicola Sturgeon And Yvette Cooper Offer To Take In Syrian Refugees; George Osborne Signals Aid Shift

Jens Meyer/AP
Protesters demonstrate with a banner 'Refugees welcome!' in Dresden, eastern Germany, Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. A refugee shelter was attacked by far-right protesters in Heidenau near Dresden over the last weekend. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

Yvette Cooper and Nicola Sturgeon have both offered to put up some of the Syrian refugees set to be taken in by the UK.

The Labour leadership contender and Scotland’s first minister said they were prepared to house families fleeing the war and persecution in their homeland.

Their offer came as George Osborne unveiled a fresh plan to use the overseas aid budget to help local councils resettle thousands more Syrians to Britain.

Ahead of a Commons statement expected from David Cameron tomorrow, the Chancellor said that the Government would undertake a ‘fundamental’ overhaul of its foreign aid spending to redirect money to the humanitarian crisis in the region.

But it is Ms Cooper and Ms Sturgeon’s offer of direct help that is sure to unleash a wave of similar questions to all politicians as the UK prepares to increase its Syrian refugee numbers by upto 15,000.

Asked by SkyNews’ Dermot Murnaghan if she was prepared to take in a Syrian family, the Shadow Home Secretary replied: “If that's what it took and that's what was needed, of course. Lots of people would be.”

And Ms Sturgeon, asked the same question on the programme, replied: “Yes, I would.”

Downing Street, asked if the Prime Minister or Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond were prepared to take in refugees, referred the media back to Mr Cameron’s recent statement setting out the UK’s moral duty to do more.

Finland's Prime Minister Juha Sipila has already offered his own home for refugees.

Last week, the Prime Minister bowed to public and political presssure to accept more Syrian refugees in the wake of the photo of the dead body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed up on a beach in Turkey.

Mr Osborne told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that “the photo crystallised a growing sense" in Britain that it had to "do more" to help refugees. “That picture brought home to British politicians” and others the need to act, he admitted.

The Chancellor revealed that the Department for International Development (DfID) budget would be redirected to refugees as part of a ‘fundamental’ overhaul of the way aid is spent.

“You have got to have a fundamental rethink of how you are using this...a fundamental rethink of how we're using this budget"

"We will deploy the foreign aid budget" to deal with the "crisis on our doorstep" and help UK local authorities resettle refugees from camps to UK, he added.

Sweden is one of the few countries that uses its development aid budget to help it resettle refugees at home.

Mr Osborne added that the current £250m of Britain’s multi-billion pound aid budget spent on refugees was 'not nearly enough'.

He said that with the UK one of the few in the world committed to spending 0.7% of its GDP on aid, Britain’s economic growth was providing extra millions this year for the poorest.

'Let's use the additional money" from the GDP increase to help refugees, he said.