A group of nine local authorities have launched a campaign to claw back money owed to them by government departments for providing care to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
A report produced by the coalition claims that they face a shortfall of nearly £35m in funding for a range of services for the care of “some of the most vulnerable children living in England”. The councils are blaming confusion between government departments over responsibilities for UASC services and “a lack of clarity in the legislation”.
The coalition is headed by Kent County Council, which as one of the “gateway” authorities for asylum seekers has long been concerned with the growing pressure on services as the volume of young people seeking asylum continues to grow. Around 10% of all looked-after children are UASC and these are mainly distributed in the South East. According to the report this has inflated the cost of agency foster placements and the increase is not sufficiently covered by Home Office grants.
The report was launched on 13 November at the Houses of Parliament, where MPs and Home Office officials heard the demand for extra funding. The campaigning authorities are also urging the government to sort out the planning and delivery of UASC services after the report highlighted a “mismatch between childcare legislation and immigration legislation”.