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Asylum seekers: Kent County Council to ask government for more cash in face of overspend

By Paul Francis

County council leaders are to meet with the immigration minister Brandon Lewis tomorrow  to press a claim that it needs more money to meet the costs of looking after asylum seekers.

Kent County Council says its budget is overspent by £4.5m because the authority has a large number of asylum children who have now left care but which it continues to have to support.

While the council receives some money from the government to provide that support, social services chiefs say that it falls short of the actual costs of the so-called “care leavers”.

Kent is facing a £4.5m shortfall to look after asylum seekers

Kent is facing a £4.5m shortfall to look after asylum seekers

KCC leader Cllr Paul Carter (Con) said he hoped the government would be sympathetic to the authority and that the £4.5m overspend would be recognised.

“It is a significant proportion of our overspend. If we can get a sensible agreement, we will be in a much better financial position,” he told colleagues at a cabinet meeting.

The £4.5m is part of an £11.2m overspend in KCC’s budget which it is trying to eliminate before setting out its budget plans for 2018 - which will require the council to save a staggering £75m.

A report setting out the pressures on the asylum budget says the grant paid by government to councils once children reach the age of 16 reduces.

It says Kent’s situation is exacerbated because most of those who arrived in the county as unaccompanied children have mainly gone into foster homes and have chosen to remain so - at a higher cost.

Any attempt to move them from their fosterers to cheaper lodgings could be challenged in the courts.

KCC is meeting a government minister tomorrow to press for more cash

KCC is meeting a government minister tomorrow to press for more cash

Meanwhile, the council continues to struggle with rising demand for help with the elderly and other vulnerable adults, with finance chiefs reporting a £4.6m overspend - of which £4m is down to the costs of residential care.

Cllr Susan Carey (Con), cabinet member for customers, communications and performance, said calculating the impact of increased demand for adult care was hard to predict.

“If anyone is eligible for care, we have to provide it - that is what is putting us under tremendous pressure,” she said.

KCC has already warned that frontline services could be hit in next year’s budget if the government fails to bail the authority out.

Council taxpayers are likely to face another hike in their bills with a 4% increase on the cards under proposals put forward by Kent County Council.

 

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