Ellie Ames 06 July 2023

Kent launches legal action over asylum-seeking children

Kent launches legal action over asylum-seeking children  image
Image: Katya Shut / Shutterstock.com.

Kent County Council (KCC) has issued a claim for judicial review against the home secretary, asking her to direct other local authorities to ‘receive their fair share’ of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC).

The council said the number of UASC in its care was putting a ‘wholly disproportionate’ strain on its children’s services.

The national transfer scheme (NTS), set up in 2016, means that statutory responsibility for supporting UASC can be transferred from an entry local authority to another UK local authority with children’s services.

KCC said that, between 1 January and 1 July this year, 648 UASC arrived in Kent and were passed on to its children’s services.

Of these, the council said, only 426 had successfully been passed on to other local authorities under the NTS.

KCC said the scheme’s operation ‘sadly remains inadequate’.

KCC leader Roger Gough and Sue Chander, cabinet member for integrated children’s services, said: ‘Kent residents deserve a robust, long-term solution. This is well overdue and critical for the future welfare of all children supported by KCC, whatever their background and the continuation of the excellent services that support them.’

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘The wellbeing of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in our care is an absolute priority. Robust safeguarding and welfare measures are in place to ensure children are safe and supported.

‘The National Transfer Scheme allows us to work closely with Kent County Council and other local authorities, so that necessary support can be provided to both councils and children.’

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