Kent needs urgent action over unaccompanied asylum seeking children - KCC blasts failing transfer scheme

Contributed by editor on Sep 08, 2016 - 08:25 AM



The new National Transfer Scheme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children is not working, says Kent County Council.


... KCC is caring for more than 1,400 migrant young people  .....

Urgent action is needed to make the scheme mandatory, says the local authority which is caring for more than 1,400 migrant young people.

Just 48 under-18s have been permanently transferred from Kent to other local authorities since the voluntary scheme was launched two months ago. This is not even keeping up with the new arrivals in the county, which have topped 90 in the same period.


Hugely disproportionate number

Peter Oakford, KCC Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services, said: “The voluntary scheme is not working and Kent is continuing to care for a hugely disproportionate number of these young people. While we are very grateful to those authorities who have signed up to this scheme, the vast majority have not stepped up and accepted their responsibilities. We need Government to make national dispersal mandatory as a matter of urgency.

“We are also concerned about the organisation of the national dispersal scheme alongside other schemes, such as the resettlement of Syrian refugee families and the ‘Dubs’ amendment bringing vulnerable children straight from camps in Europe. There is a lack of clarity and direction from government as to the responsibilities and priorities of councils under these arrangements. We urge Government to make it clear that supporting the unaccompanied young people we already have in the UK is an urgent priority.


Huge pressures

“We do the best we can in Kent but such high numbers place huge pressures on our services, such as foster carers, social workers, school places, accommodation, healthcare and tutoring in English as a second language. The transfer scheme must be made mandatory so that the numbers are shared fairly across the county. This will improve the level of support offered to these vulnerable young people, rather than placing unsustainable pressures on a few authorities.”


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