Councils to share cash for minors

Money for councils with large numbers of unaccompanied asylum
seekers about to turn 18 will be shared among 20 local authorities,
the government has confirmed.

The move follows the High Court ruling in August 2003 that
Hillingdon Council had a duty to provide care and support for
unaccompanied minors until they were 21, and in some cases 24.

Kent Council, which had an estimated 1,825 unaccompanied minors
aged 16-17 in March 2003, is top of the list and will receive
almost half of the £12m fund. Hillingdon Council, which had
the second highest number (805), will receive £1.5m.

But Hillingdon Council leader Ray Puddifoot said the settlement
would not be enough and that no funds had been made available for
money already spent last year.

However, he welcomed government assurances that more money would
be made available to cover the additional cost of unaccompanied
minors who had already left the council’s care who could now
return for help once the £5m contingency fund to cover this
group dried up.

So far, about 50 former unaccompanied minors have sought support
from Hillingdon Council alone, and Puddifoot said there could be
500 more entitled to return for help.

Under the funding arrangements, councils will get no extra money
for the first 44 unaccompanied minors who turn 18 and qualify for
leaving care services that they deal with (news, page 12,

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