Ellie Ames 29 August 2023

Kent ‘once again’ cannot meet UAS children duties

Kent ‘once again’ cannot meet UAS children duties image
Image: Ruslan Lytvyn / Shutterstock.com

‘Ever-escalating’ arrivals of asylum seekers and a ‘wholly inadequate’ National Transfer Scheme (NTS) have left Kent unable to meet its statutory duties in caring for children, the county council has warned.

Last month, the High Court ruled that Kent County Council had acted unlawfully by failing to accommodate and look after all unaccompanied children seeking asylum.

The local authority said it is caring for 661 unaccompanied asylum-seeking (UAS) children and 1,030 UAS care leavers.

The NTS has seen just 136 UAS children transferred from Kent to other local authorities in the past month, while 489 newly arrived children were referred to the county’s children’s services, the council added.

Council leader Roger Gough and Cllr Sue Chandler, cabinet member for integrated children’s services, said: ‘We are not able to deal with this international issue alone without a properly managed and effective NTS.

‘This continues to have significant implications for our county and all children and young people who require services under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989, whether they arrive as asylum seekers or already reside in Kent.’

A Government spokesperson said: ‘The safety and welfare of all children is our utmost priority. We are working closely with Kent County Council to help them fulfil their legal duty.

‘Significant work is also underway to increase placement capacity and to make sure local authorities fulfil their statutory duty to accommodate unaccompanied children nationwide.’

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