Social services directors have written to councils outlining their opposition to the policy that can lead to the children of failed asylum seekers being taken into care.
The Association of Directors of Social Services called on councils to lobby their MPs about section nine of the Nationality, Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004.
The ADSS also plans to write to MPs and peers raising its concerns.
In its letter to councils, the ADSS outlined its worries about section nine and called on local authorities to set out a case to their MPs for ending the policy.
Peter Gilroy, chair of the ADSS’s asylum taskforce, said: “It is to let them know that we are at the point where the legislation is putting children in harm’s way.”
The move comes after research by Barnardo’s found that at least 35 families subjected to section nine were no longer in contact with services (news, 3 November).
Gilroy said that while the government is working hard to implement Every Child Matters, other policies “seem to be encouraging families to disappear.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The policy is not designed to make families destitute or split up families. It is intended to act as an incentive to return voluntarily before removal is enforced.”
The policy removes benefits from failed asylum-seeking families if they do not take steps to leave the country, facing them with the possibility of having their children taken into care.
Meanwhile, Community Care has learned that the government is looking at sending unaccompanied Vietnamese minors whose asylum claims have failed back to Vietnam.
A Home Office spokesperson said officials from the department recently travelled to Hanoi to meet with the Vietnamese government to discuss the issue.
She said the government was targeting the country because a high number of unaccompanied minors travelled from Vietnam to Britain.
During 2002-4, 500 unaccompanied Vietnamese minors travelled to the UK, and the group make up a quarter of all Vietnamese asylum applications.
The government is also developing a pilot scheme to return unaccompanied Albanian minors whose asylum claims have failed.
Currently, all unaccompanied minors in this situation are granted leave to remain in the UK until they are 18 when they are deported.