‘Placements do not exist’ to move unaccompanied children out of hotels, warn directors

Home Office announces five-day target for councils to accept asylum-seeking children from hotels, along with funding boost, but ADCS says measures do not address placement shortage

Young asylum seeker
Picture posed by model (photo: pixelrain/Adobe Stock)

A government bid to speed up moving unaccompanied asylum-seeking children out of hotels into council care fails to address the dearth of placements available, directors have said.

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services issued the warning after the Home Office introduced a five-day target for councils to accept children from hotels following referral under the now mandatory national transfer scheme (NTS) – under which all authorities across the UK must accept a share of unaccompanied minors.

This will be supported by increased funding, with councils who take in a child from a hotel within five days receiving an extra £2,000 per month for three months, on top of the £143 a day they receive from the Home Office to care for unaccompanied children and young people.

The government has been using hotels to accommodate asylum seekers and refugees, including children, to deal with pressures following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, at a current cost of £5m a day. Charities and social work bodies have raised concerns about the inadequacy of support for affected unaccompanied children.

Alongside the hotel announcement, the Home Office has raised the threshold for the number of children any council must be able to accept under the NTS, from 0.07% to 0.1% of the child population, in order to ensure “children are fairly distributed between councils”.

‘Placements just do not exist’

However, the ADCS warned that neither this nor the five-day target would not address the lack of available placements.

President Steve Crocker said: “ADCS recognises the need to transfer young people out of hotels as soon as possible, into appropriate placements, however, the placements just do not exist. We have been highlighting for some time the placement sufficiency challenge that needs urgent national attention as well as the increasing costs of placements and profiteering from the care of vulnerable children.

“The changes that have been announced today, including increasing the threshold at which a local authority can make referrals to the NTS from 0.07% to 0.1%, and reducing the transfer deadline to five working days, do nothing to address the many pressing and longstanding pressures in the system that we continue to raise with government – for example, the inadequacy of the funding arrangements for care leavers and finding appropriate homes for children when they arrive here.”

Announcing the plan last week, immigration minister Kevin Foster said: “The government cannot deal with the impact of the rise in dangerous and illegal small boat crossings alone which is why I welcome the support from councils to help us reduce the cost of hotels and quickly move unaccompanied asylum-seeking children so they receive the care they need.

“Any council which moves a child from a hotel to their care under the new scheme will receive support funding of £6,000 per child for the first 3 months to give them the best possible start.”


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2 Responses to ‘Placements do not exist’ to move unaccompanied children out of hotels, warn directors

  1. Lou Wright September 2, 2022 at 9:36 pm #

    Although this is a nice idealistic aim… the article is right. There is no placements. In our LA we have children sleeping in offices. We have children bouncing around EDT placements. There simply is no placements!

    • Andy September 5, 2022 at 10:56 am #

      Indeed! Even with the most ambitiously optimistic outlook, it’s difficult to realistically predict how this issue is to be resolved satisfactorily given the oft and rightly highlighted resource constraints within which virtually all local authorities function. There seems to be a general reluctance to fully and openly acknowledge (let alone debate) the huge and seemingly endless logistical challenge of providing sufficient appropriate placements and formal support pathways (regardless of additional funding) as pointed out by Mr Crocker.