William Eichler 09 April 2018

Councils threaten to ‘divide' migrant families, report says

Councils threaten to ‘divide migrant families, report says image

Local authorities often threaten to take children into care if their parents do not have the proper documentation to remain in the country, human rights groups warn.

A new report from a number of human rights organisations has detailed the extent to which the Government’s policy of discouraging immigration by creating a ‘hostile environment’ has infiltrated all areas of UK life.

One area in which this has been felt is in the level of support offered by local authorities to migrant families.

The report - entitled A Guide to the Hostile Environment: the border controls dividing our communities - and how we can bring them down - details how when faced with undocumented families in desperate need, local authorities are often only offering accommodation to children.

This, effectively, means councils threaten to take children into care if an undocumented parent asks social services for support.

Local authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of ‘children in need’ in their area under the Children Act 1989, sometimes called a ‘Section 17 duty’.

If a family is homeless or unable to meet certain basic needs the authority will be required to help the children, who will be classed as ‘in need’. When it comes to accommodation, the family will be kept together.

This is also, technically, the case for undocumented migrant families from outside the European Economic Area who are classed as having ‘no recourse to public funds’. A failure to provide support is considered to be a breach of human rights law.

However, the report states that, due to the policy of creating a ‘hostile environment’, councils often offer the children of undocumented migrant families accommodation but wrongly conclude these families cannot be offered support.

This effectively leaves families, as Martha Spurrier, director of Liberty, explains, with ‘a choice between homelessness or having their children taken into care.’

‘The Government’s war on migrants’ rights has made the UK a place where parents fear sending their children to school, people with life-threatening illnesses avoid seeking medical care, people sleeping rough hide from services that should exist to support them and undocumented families face a choice between homelessness or having their children taken into care.

‘These toxic policies depend on willing participation from people across society – but that will also be their downfall.

'Civil servants, doctors, teachers and the wider public are already refusing to be complicit in the Government’s attempt to turn us all into border guards. If more of us do so, we can fight for a country that guarantees people’s fundamental rights, wherever they come from.’

A commitment to civil debate image

A commitment to civil debate

Cllr Arooj Shah has been the target of recent threats and harassment. Leaders from all parties in Oldham have now come together to add their signature to a ‘politics, not personalities’ pledge, she explains.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Environmental Health/Environmental Protection Officer - Noise

Tower Hamlets London Borough Council
£41,607.00 - £44,598.00
This post attracts an essential car user allowance. The post holder is able to take part in the Council's flexible working scheme. Tower Hamlets, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Tower Hamlets London Borough Council

Director of Financial Services (Deputy Section 151)

London Borough of Waltham Forest
£110,118 to £118,864
his is a great opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge that will lead to becoming a Section 151 Officer. Waltham Forest, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Waltham Forest

Director of Business Development

North Yorkshire County Council
50-60k + relocation allowance
We are looking for a dynamic and innovative person to help us deliver our ambitious new strategic objectives set out in... North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Strategic Service Manager - Bridgend Youth Justice Service

Bridgend County Borough Council
£44,863 - £45,859 per annum
An exciting opportunity has presented to lead Bridgend Youth Justice Service. Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)
Recuriter: Bridgend County Borough Council

Corporate Property Surveyor

Ashford Borough Council
£34,476 to £37,158 pa - plus Lease Car or Cash alternative of £2,080 pa
Ashford Borough Council has a long and proud record of driving high quality place making. Ashford, Kent
Recuriter: Ashford Borough Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue