A group of councils are demanding that the government reviews the
policy under which children of failed asylum seekers can be taken
into care, writes Amy Taylor.
Ten councils in the Greater Manchester area plus Blackburn with
Darwen cite the distress children suffer in a letter to the Home
Office’s immigration and nationality directorate.
Under section nine of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of
Claimants, etc) Act 2004, benefits are withdrawn from failed
asylum-seeker parents who refuse to return to their countries of
origin, making them unable to support their children financially.
The policy is being piloted in Greater Manchester and parts of
London and Leeds.
The councils’ action comes as an asylum-seeker family in Bolton
became one of the first to face the possibility of having their
The Sukula family of six children, four of them under 10, lost
their appeal last week against the Home Office’s decision to
withdraw benefits. They were supposed to leave their council house
last Friday but are still living in the property.
Jason Travis, a teacher at the secondary school attended by some of
the children, said the family, who fled the Democratic Republic of
Congo three and a half years ago, were considering mounting a
A Bolton Council spokesperson said it had no plans to evict the
family and would help them with basic needs while working through
the case. Bolton is one of the signatories to the letter.
But another family facing destitution under the policy, the Khanali
family in Bury, won their appeal.
Nushra Mapstone, professional officer at the British Association of
Social Workers, welcomed the councils’ letter but said they should
have acted earlier.
Ann Baxter, secretary of the Association of Directors of Social
Services children and families committee, said it was likely that
more councils would now go public with their concerns about the
A Home Office spokesperson said it expected families affected by
the policy to “act responsibly” and return to their country of
origin with their children.