Mark Whitehead 22 December 2015

Councils demand help with the ‘huge bills’ to look after refugee children

Local government leaders have demanded action to help councils facing huge bills to look after refugee children.

They say a small number of port authorities are bearing the cost of caring for unnaccompanied youngsters and are calling on Whitehall to set up a 'properly funded' national body to help deal with them.

An investigation by a national newspaper revealed that just 10 councils spent £37m in the last year on 1,168 unaccompanied children fleeing war-torn countries.

David Simmonds of the Local Government Association said it was not sustainable to leave a small number of port authority councils - where asylum seekers enter the country - to take care of refugee children.

He called for a scheme similar to the one already responsible for ensuring adults are dispersed among councils nationwide.

Cllr Simmonds said: ‘Supporting vulnerable children is one of the most important things councils do, but it is not right that local authorities are left facing a significant financial burden when supporting these children.’

He added: ‘Councils are rightly proud of what unaccompanied children go on to achieve with their support, but the system needs to be properly resourced by government so that young people are not left vulnerable as a result of the complexities of national asylum policy.’

Photo: Procyk Radek / Shutterstock.com

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