Pioneering work in Greater Manchester with young unaccompanied asylum seekers has an uncertain future, delegates at a Community Care conference heard yesterday.
The safe case transfer scheme offering “culturally appropriate” placements was set up in 2003 by Manchester, Bury and Bolton councils after Kent Council asked for assistance with the high numbers of unaccompanied children claiming asylum in the county.
Following a successful pilot it is now “unclear” how the safe transfer scheme will proceed, said Pauline Newman, children’s services director at Manchester Council and co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services taskforce on asylum.
Issues need resolving, particularly the financial implications for councils taking in asylum seeking children, she added. Those who do inherit any subsequent leaving care costs, warned Newman.
The Greater Manchester scheme has been praised by government inspectors and the Home Office and cited as good practice in Every Child Matters.
Newman said her authority is keen to contribute by sharing good practice and expanding the scheme if possible.
Listening to Newman’s speech, Brian Kinney, newly-appointed director of the Home Office unaccompanied asylum seeking children’s reform team, responded immediately.
He said the government wanted to “build” on the success of the safe case transfer scheme and its reform programme intends to examine financial disincentives for councils taking in young asylum seekers.