10.05.19

Councils get £30m boost to look after asylum seeking children

The government has announced a £30m funding boost for councils looking after unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) following warnings that minors are being “left in limbo.”

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes revealed that local authorities will receive £114 for each child for every day that they are in their care, which equates to over £41,600 per year per child.

Council leaders welcomed the announcement, saying they were “pleased” the government had listened to councils by announcing new funding to help tackle this rising cost pressure and meet commitments to support children starting a new life in the UK.

Announcing the fund, Nokes said: “This government is fully committed to helping the most vulnerable children affected by the migration crisis and that is why we have provided protection to over 34,600 children since 2010.

“I recognise the vital role local authorities play in this effort and that is why I have increased the funding available for looking after unaccompanied asylum-seeking children by over £30m.

“This funding will help make sure the government and local authorities across the UK can continue to work together to support vulnerable children.”

The funding follows a review of the funding for UASC which consulted councils, NGOs and the LGA, and represents a 61% increase on the lowest rate that is currently paid.

Councils are currently facing a £3.1bn funding gap in children’s services by 2025 and are “under massive financial pressure supporting children in care,” and local authorities have called for the government to plug this gap in the upcoming Spending Review.

David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s asylum, migration and refugee task group, responded: “Given that councils have seen an increase of more than 50% in two years in unaccompanied children leaving care when they turn 18, we hope the government’s ongoing review of support for care leavers addresses this remaining cost pressure.

“With the vast majority of refugee children aged 16 or 17, this change in funding needs to be followed through so that care leaving costs, which are equal to or greater than those of non-UASC, are fully funded, as this remains the main barrier to councils taking on responsibility for ever-growing numbers.”

Back in February, it emerged that local authorities had been forced to drastically increase spending on unaccompanied minors in their care, and the LGA accused ministers of “paying lip service” to children “who had made dangerous journeys to the UK.”

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