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Council spending on unaccompanied asylum-seeking children double in four years

The amount of money being spent on vital services in the care and support of unaccompanied children seeking asylum by councils has doubled in four years, according to the LGA.

Despite local authorities’ best efforts and eagerness to provide support to those looking to resettle into a new community, the LGA has warned the government that funding pressures and demand for services are impeding councils’ ambition to provide the best possible support.

The number of children and young people in care seeking asylum rose from 2,760 in 2014-15 – where councils spent £77m on their care and support – to 4,480 in 2017-18, where councils spending more than £152m – an increase of 95%.

There was also a rise of more than 50% in the number of children leaving care when they turn 18 where they remained the responsibility of their local council.

Soaring costs and rising demand are placing unprecedented pressure on councils’ children’s services, which face a £3.1bn funding gap by 2025.

The LGA is calling for this to be plugged in this year’s upcoming Spending Review, as well as for the government to complete its review into the cost to councils supporting lone children.

Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s Asylum, Migration and Refugee Task Group, said: “Councils have a strong track record supporting those resettling in the UK and are committed to providing the best support possible. However, given the significant financial pressures councils are under as they set local budgets and council tax in the coming weeks, achieving the level of support new arrivals are legally entitled to is becoming more and more challenging.”

Simmonds said that councils want to ensure every child receives the care and support they need, and that this is why the government must announce the finings of its “long overdue” review into the funding of support provided by councils to unaccompanied children.

“It is vital this includes a pledge to properly fund the joint commitment to support unaccompanied children, young people and families starting a new life in the UK. We also need to see the government tackle the wider funding shortfall facing children’s services in the forthcoming Spending Review.”


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