Hughes pledges to foot bill for taking children of asylum seekers into care

The government has promised to reimburse social services
departments if children of failed asylum seekers are taken into
care under proposed legislation.

Victoria Williams, national liaison officer for asylum seekers and
refugees, told a conference in London last week that Home Office
minister Beverley Hughes had made the pledge during a meeting with
the Local Government Association.

“The minister made a commitment that local authorities would be
able to get funding back if they had to take children into care as
a result of families being denied support,” Williams told the
Asylum Support and Refugee Integration Conference, organised by
Infolog Training.

Although the asylum bill has no specific measures about taking
children into care, it proposes ending support for families whose
applications have failed and who are unwilling to go home. If
families become destitute as a result, the state will be obliged to
support the children.

According to Williams, Hughes said taking children into care would
be “a very last resort”, and the family would have their options

But Neil Gerrard, chairperson of the all-party parliamentary
refugee group, warned that the change would have “big implications”
for local authorities as they would be the ones faced with the
decision on whether to take children into care after support is
withdrawn from families.

However, he doubted that many children would be taken into care,
saying many families would “disappear” instead, as happens with
single people who are denied support.

Sandy Buchan, chief executive of Refugee Action, cautioned against
focusing only on that issue.

“This happened in the last act,” Buchan said. “The focus was on
accommodation centres and the exclusion of children from mainstream
schools and it allowed section 55 to get through unchallenged.”

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