Council bosses will offer support to eligible Hong Kong residents who plan to start a new life in the UK while fleeing clashes with the Chinese authorities.

The UK Government recently announced a new programme of funding to support the integration of holders of the new Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BNO) Visa and their close family members.

At a meeting of North Ayrshire Council’s Cabinet last week (Tuesday), councillors noted the support that could be available to visa applicants who arrive in North Ayrshire.

The new visa route will entitle Hong Kong residents who hold BNO status to come to the UK, initially for up to five years, but with an option to apply for indefinite leave to remain, and then citizenship.

It is not yet known how many Hong Kong residents will apply to arrive in the UK, nor how many could settle in North Ayrshire.

Hong Kong BN(O) status holders will be expected to be self-sufficient. To be eligible, applicants must prove they are able to maintain themselves and their families in the UK for six months.

Some new arrivals may require integration support, such as access to language classes and assistance to access services but they will not be able to claim welfare benefits, apply for council housing or access to housing benefits.

Funding will be available to support local authorities to manage and cover costs,including to access English language classes.

Councillor Jim Montgomerie, Cabinet Member for Green New Deal and Sustainability, said: “This council has a proven track record when it comes to offering support to those from overseas.

“This would be different from our programme which has helped more than 200 Syrian refugees who were fleeing persecution and war, and also our relocation scheme for Afghan families.

“Nevertheless, we stand ready to offer any support which would be required.”