Kent County Council has announced that it will resume admitting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) into its reception centres after it temporarily stopped this service earlier in the year.
In June the county council informed the Home Office that it no longer had the capacity to safely look after newly arrived UASC from the port of Dover because of the strain on Children’s Services.
The council had taken similar action in August 2020 for the same reason.
The local authority is currently caring for over 400 under 18-year-old UASC even though the Government recommends this figure should only be 231.
Kent County Council leader Roger Gough said the council’s decision to start accepting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children again is part of its discussions with the Home Office.
‘We are in very advanced discussions with the Home Office to develop a safe and sustainable solution for Kent to support those who arrive in the county,’ he said.
‘This reflects the realities of the Government strategy for the distribution of UASC around all local authorities in the UK through the National Transfer Scheme, without our services being overwhelmed by the numbers of new arrivals.’
Cllr Gough also warned that the current level of arrivals across the Channel makes it unlikely it will be able to safely accommodate all UASC arrivals on Kent’s shores, and he urged the Government to make the National Transfer Scheme mandatory.
‘We remain of the view that the only long-term solution to caring for and distributing UASC fairly and safely is for the Home Secretary to use her power under the 2016 Immigration Act to make participation in the National Transfer Scheme mandatory for all local authorities and will keep all legal options open to pursue that if necessary,’ he said.