Children of asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected
but who fail to return to their home country could be taken into
care, immigration minister Beverley Hughes has warned.
Elaborating on plans to be included in the Queen’s Speech to
further tighten up the asylum process, Hughes told the home affairs
select committee last week that the move was designed to deter
asylum seekers from staying in the UK after their appeal had been
But committee chairperson John Denham MP said there were fears the
policy would not have the desired effect and would increase
pressure on social services departments.
“There is concern that asylum seekers will not opt to return but
instead disappear into a pool of illegal workers. If that happens
the government will encounter more expense and will be adding to
the problems of those families,” he said.
The news followed a government announcement of a £10m fund to
help councils fulfil their duties towards unaccompanied asylum
seekers until the age of 24, after a High Court ruling against
Hillingdon Council earlier this year that all councils had a duty
to provide unaccompanied minors with the same level of support as
care leavers (news, page 9, 4 September).
Peter Gilroy, chairperson of the Association of Directors of Social
Services task force on asylum seekers, said the cash was a “good
start and the first time government has acknowledged that councils
with high numbers of asylum seekers have serious financial
But he said the fund, which is part of the new £100m
safeguarding children grant, would “not be enough”.
Hillingdon social services director Hugh Dunnachie agreed that the
money was “woefully inadequate”. His department estimated it would
need £5.5m annually to meet its obligations towards
unaccompanied asylum seekers following the High Court ruling.
Gilroy, director of social services in Kent, which receives the
highest number of unaccompanied minors in England, estimated his
council might need three times that amount.
He said the new money would be for those councils that were home to
a port of entry but other councils around the country would be
unwilling to accept unaccompanied minors without guarantees of
financial help to support asylum-seeking children after 18.