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National Transfer Scheme extended to whole of UK

The National Transfer Scheme (NTS) will be extended to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis has announced.

The voluntary scheme, which supports local authorities to transfer the care of unaccompanied children to another local authority, was introduced in July 2016.

Since its introduction it has seen over 500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children transferred to different local authorities, easing the pressure placed on a small number of authorities, such as Croydon and Kent.

The immigration minister said that the government is very grateful to those councils who have volunteered to care for unaccompanied children, but added: “It is clear that there is more to do to ensure that no local authority is asked to look after more children than its local services can cope with and that the children receive the right level of care.”

England has around 4,500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children in local authority care, as Lewis added: “A small number of local authorities continue to look after a disproportionately high number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

“The NTS is underpinned by provisions in the Immigration Act 2016. However, these provisions currently only apply to English local authorities, which makes it difficult for the other nations of the UK to participate.”

He has announced that the government is to introduce secondary legislation which will extend the NTS to the whole of the UK.

Lewis explained: “The statutory instrument provides a legislative base for transfer arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“This will allow the relevant authorities in each nation of the UK to participate in the NTS and ensure it is a truly national scheme.”

He concluded: “We hope that by introducing this statutory instrument, we will encourage more local authorities to step forward and volunteer to support these children.”

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