Exclusive: Councils and government clash over asylum funding

    London councils are collectively facing around a £10
    million gap in government funding for their asylum services
    provided in 2003-4, it was claimed this week, writes
    Amy Taylor.

    Caroline Highwood, assistant director of resources at Kent
    Council’s social services department, added that her
    authority was looking at an additional shortfall of around
    £3.1 million for asylum services for the same period.

    The local authorities concerned made “special
    circumstances bids” to the government for extra money for
    their asylum services for this period. But they have now learned
    that the actual amounts they have been awarded are significantly
    lower than their original bids.

    Highwood said Kent had made a bid for £3.5 million but was
    awarded just £377,000. London councils had collectively made
    a bid for around £15 million but were awarded around £5

    Kent has also put in a special circumstances bid for £4.9
    million for its asylum services for 2004-5.

    A Home Office spokesperson insisted that the maximum rates of
    special circumstances payments were well established and that local
    authorities should have been working within them.

    He added that the Home Office would “continue to discuss
    the issue of funding for asylum services with representative


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