William Eichler 29 November 2023

Home Secretary acted ‘irrationally’ over National Transfer Scheme

Home Secretary acted ‘irrationally’ over National Transfer Scheme image
Image: Sean Aidan Calderbank / Shutterstock.com

The Home Secretary’s powers have been exercised ‘irrationally’ when it comes to the decision-making process in relation to the National Transfer Scheme (NTS), the High Court has ruled.

The use of hotels for unaccompanied asylum seeking (UAS) children was found in July to be unlawful after a claim of judicial review was brought against Kent County Council (CC) and the Home Office.

The High Court also found that Kent CC acted in breach of its Children Act 1989 duties by failing to accommodate and look after all unaccompanied children seeking asylum when notified of their arrival.

In a further judgement, the High Court yesterday ruled that the Home Secretary’s decision-making in relation to the NTS was ‘irrational’ because it failed to accept that the Home Office was partly responsible for Kent CC’s unlawful failure to discharge its duties to take UAS children into care.

The Home Office had also failed to take responsibility for the fact that the use of hotels had by December 2021 become systematic, routine and therefore unlawful.

Commenting on the judgement, Roger Gough, leader of Kent CC, said: ‘We are extremely pleased with the judgment handed down today proving that the long-standing issues we have had with the NTS remain unresolved and KCC was right to bring this Judicial Review.

‘For many years, Kent has been shouldering the responsibility of the nation in the care of UAS children and the judge recognised, as we have always said, that this is not a “Kent” problem but a national one, urgently in need of resolution by central government fairly and equitably across the nation.’

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The safety and welfare of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and the provision of care placements for them is a national issue that requires participation from local authorities across the UK.

‘We are carefully considering the judgment today and will continue to work with local authorities across the UK to support them to fulfil their statutory duties to accommodate unaccompanied children nationwide.’

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