Council denies discrimination claim by commissioner

A London council has denied claims by the children’s commissioner for England that it is unlawfully depriving unaccompanied asylum-seeking children of support in order to save money.

Cathy Bambrough, acting deputy director of children and families services at Hillingdon Council, insisted the local authority was not operating a two-tier system under which unaccompanied minors received a lesser service than other looked-after children, as alleged by Al Aynsley-Green.

The commissioner wrote to the council last week alleging that it was routinely moving unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from the looked-after to the leaving care system – where they have fewer rights – soon after their 16th birthday or shortly after they enter care in the case of those over 16.

His office claimed the council was acting unlawfully by applying this policy to all unaccompanied minors, rather than carrying out assessments on the basis of each child’s needs, as required under the Children Act 1989.

But Bambrough said the needs of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, like those of other looked-after children, were assessed in line with the act and that they were not being prematurely pushed into the leaving care system.

The council is meeting with the commissioner to discuss the allegations next week.

Contact the author: Amy Taylor

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