Directors force retreat over grants

Government plans to scrap grants for councils accommodating 16 and
17-year-old asylum seekers have been abandoned following strong
protests from directors of social services.

The climbdown came out of talks this week between the Home Office
and Peter Gilroy, director of Kent social services and chairperson
of the asylum task force.

Under the proposals, councils would have been required to find 16
and 17 year olds homes in the private sector, to be paid for by
housing benefit, within eight weeks.

But the policy, which was to be introduced in April, was criticised
by Gilroy who said councils unable to find homes within the
timescale could have to pay for unaccompanied minors out of their
own budgets. It would have cost Kent, which looks after 2,000
unaccompanied asylum seeker minors, £4m per year.

Gilroy said he was “very pleased” that the Home Office had decided
to back down over the proposal, which he called “unsustainable”.

There are now plans to set up a working party, which will include
members of the Association of Directors of Social Services and the
Local Government Association, to discuss alternative ideas.

Meanwhile, six asylum seekers this week launched a legal challenge
of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 because it bans
people who make late asylum claims from receiving government
support. They claim that this infringes their human rights.

Under section 55 of the act only asylum seekers making applications
as soon as is “reasonably practicable” are eligible for support
from the National Asylum Support Service.

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