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.’

A perfect storm for care homes image

A perfect storm for care homes

Iain MacBeath, strategic director, health and wellbeing at Bradford City Council, looks at the challenges facing the adult social care sector.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Regeneration Delivery Manager - Heritage Action Zone

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£42684 - £45585 per annum
(Fixed Term Opportunity until March 2024)Woolwich town is undergoing a period of intensive regeneration with huge investment in new housing, transport England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Assistant Director, Public Protection

London Borough of Merton
£96,840 - £101,193 per annum
You will bring a track record of successful leadership of a comparable range of services in complex public sector organisations. Y Merton, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Merton

Placement Monitoring Officer

Essex County Council
Negotiable
Children and Families service is recognised as a service in which social work can develop and prosper, with a culture of collaboration, integrity and England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Housing Inclusion Team Leader

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£36711 - £39774 per annum
The Royal Borough of Greenwich's Housing Inclusion & Support Service is on a mission to become one of the top service providers in housing support and England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Business Support Assistant MASH & LAT

City of York Council
£18,865 to £20,013 per annum
There are 2 posts available which will primarily support work in Children’s Social Care. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York 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