Kent County Council prepares to take Home Office to High Court over cost of young asylum seekers
Asylum seekers found in a
lorry (file picture)
by political editor Paul Francis
Kent County Council is set to take the Home Office to court
in a bid to recover millions of pounds it is spending looking after
young asylum seekers who should no longer be in the UK.
The prospect of legal action in the High Court comes amid
concerns the county council is out of pocket when it comes to
looking after those who have been told to leave after
unsuccessfully appealing to stay in the country.
It comes a day after we reported how
an Afghan teenager who fears he will be killed
if deported won an 11-hour reprieve.
Social services support about 117 young adults who are over the
age of 18 and have been classified as having exhausted all rights
to remain in the country.
KCC said it has no option but to do so because of its legal
obligations under the Children's Act.
At the same time, it says the Home Office is failing to use its
powers to pay for this and consequently KCC bears all the
Council leaders say UK Border Agency has told it to consider
making young adults destitute to avoid spending money. Social
services chiefs say that would leave many turning to prostitution
or being exploited.
KCC leader Paul Carter (Con) said: "We are between a rock and a
hard place, with the Department for Education saying one thing and
the Home Office saying another, namely that we should make them
"There is general agreement that the costs of supporting asylum
seekers who have failed all rights of appeal should not fall on
Kent council tax payers. It is clearly a national issue and there
is conflict between the Home Office and the Children's Act."
He added: "We believe this is a government problem and a Home
Office problem and they should be reimbursing the local authority.
We are faced with a recurring £2m hole in our budget."
The council's chief lawyer, Geoff Willd, told county councillors
KCC would be at risk if it decided not to look after those who had
no rights to stay.
"Nobody wants the potential death or suicide [of an asylum
seeker] who social services had been supporting," he said. "We are
corporate parents here and have certain obligations to these young
people and should not lose sight of that. If a death occurred, the
authority itself could be at the end of a corporate manslaughter
He added the Home Office had a duty either to deport failed
asylum seekers or ensure councils got money to support them. "At
the moment, they are doing neither of these things."
The Conservative cabinet agreed that KCC investigate options to
take legal action against the Home Office.
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