Laura Sharman 03 November 2016

Councils covering half the cost of caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children

Councils covering half the cost of caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children

The Home Office is only providing local authorities with half the cost of caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children, according to new analysis.

In a new report, the Association of Directors of Children's Services found councils were caring for 4,689 lone children as of 31 March 2016. However it warned that the closure of the Calais Jungle, the Dubs Amendment to the Immigration Act and children being transferred under Dublin III arrangements will see this figure increase significantly over the coming months.

It found that 75% of councils were struggling to find suitable placements for each child arriving in the UK, with over a third of young people displayed psychological symptoms upon arrival, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks and depression.

Council leaders called on the Government to agree long-term funding for local government to help cover the costs associated with caring for unaccompanied migrant children,.

Cllr David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's Asylum, Migration and Refugee Task Group, said: 'Many councils have been covering this shortfall over many years, and it is now imperative that councils get a long-term funding arrangement from government so that the commitment to support those children starting a new life in the UK is properly funded for the whole time that these children are with us.

'Councils have also long faced difficulties in recruiting more foster carers, and are increasingly having to rely on placements provided by commercially driven private and independent foster care agencies. It is simply not right that the Government funding rate will not even cover the initial cost of the placement in these cases, let alone the wider care costs to councils. Having made a national commitment to support young asylum seekers, government must provide the funding to ensure council budgets are able to meet these vulnerable children's needs.'

For more on this topic read our interview with Kent councillor Peter Oakford.

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