William Eichler 19 February 2019

Whitehall’s ‘hostile environment’ puts children in danger, charity says

Whitehall’s ‘hostile environment’ puts children in danger, charity says image

The Government’s commitment to creating a ‘hostile environment’ for migrants outweighs their commitment to children’s rights, a charity has warned.

Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 places a duty on councils to safeguard the welfare of children ‘in need’ in the event that their parents are unable to access mainstream welfare support because of their immigration status.

The charity Project 17, which focuses on supporting migrant children, estimates there are 5,900 children from families across England and Wales who received section 17 support in 2012-2013.

These children grow up in ‘exceptional poverty’ and are at risk of homelessness, exploitation and abuse, according to the charity.

However, the Government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy, an approach designed to discourage immigration, and cuts to local authorities means that these children are not getting the support they require.

Local authority assessments for section 17 support are ‘excessively focused’ on the credibility of parents at the expense of a focus on the child, Project 17’s research has found.

The charity discovered that support under section 17 is hard to access and local authorities are employing various strategies, such as attacks on credibility and intimidation, to refuse families with no recourse to public funds.

Financial support provided to families under section 17 is often well below Asylum Support rates under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act.

According to Project 17, this is the minimum the Home Office says is required to avoid a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights, and case law suggests it is the minimum a council is required to pay under section 17.

Many families are unable to afford basic necessities such as enough food, clothing, school uniform, and transport on this support.

‘Home Office policy has pushed the burden of supporting children living in families with no recourse to public funds onto local authorities. But the pressures of austerity and cuts to local authority budgets have left local authorities largely unwilling to provide such support,’ according to the charity’s report Not Seen, Not Heard: Children’s experiences of the hostile environment.

‘Hostile ‘gatekeeping’ methods and increasingly gruelling assessment processes have been introduced to deter families from accessing section 17 support.

‘The families we work with are routinely failed by local authorities and the results are devastating.’

Tackling mistrust about vaccines image

Tackling mistrust about vaccines

Dr Justin Varney looks at how Birmingham is working to tackle the ‘layers upon layers of mistrust’ among ethnic minority communities that is ‘now playing out in vaccine hesitancy’.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Senior infrastructure engineer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£45.834 - £56.141
You’ll lead the building, testing and monitoring new and existing services both on-prem and in the cloud. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Infrastructure engineer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£37.772 - £46.999
This is a great role in a vibrant and growing team; we’re looking for people who have some experience in infrastructure engineering... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Solutions Architect

Essex County Council
Negotiable
Solutions ArchitectPermanent, Full TimeCompetitive SalaryLocation
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Head of Growth, Investment and Tourism – Dover District Council

Dover District Council
Competitive Salary
In this role, you will find significant and nationally important physical, economic and cultural assets with the capacity to... Dover, Kent
Recuriter: Dover District Council

Monitoring Officer / Assistant Director Legal, Registration & Electoral Services

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
£90,205 per annum         
This is an exciting time to join Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and an opportunity to make a real difference. Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recuriter: Rotherham Metropolitan 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