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Councils must take child asylum seekers as pressure mounts on KCC amid rising numbers

Councils have been ordered to take in vulnerable child asylum seekers to help ease the strain on Kent.

In a move that will be welcomed by the county council the Home Office has given other authorities an ultimatum to act to provide accommodation for child migrants, after signs that increasing numbers were arriving on Kent's shores.

RNLI crews rescue a group from a dinghy. Picture: RNLI
RNLI crews rescue a group from a dinghy. Picture: RNLI

The Home Office say councils must act in two weeks to move any children in hostels to housing.

KCC leader Roger Gough and Sue Chandler, Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services said: “We welcome the news of the Home Office intention to mandate the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) across the UK.

“It has always been our belief that a mandatory scheme is the only fair way to ensure a sustainable national solution to the equitable distribution of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) across the country and an end to the unfair burden on Kent’s residents and services solely due to our geographical position.

“As the council at the forefront of migrant arrivals in the UK, we have worked closely with ministers and officials at the Home Office and Department for Education for some time to find a reasonable solution to the UASC crisis in Kent which has sadly seen our Children’s Services become overwhelmed twice in the past 15 months."

The statement said when it resumed services in September, KCC was already caring for 309 under 18 year olds.

Since then, the council had accepted a further 247 child asylum referrals and transferred 150 to placements volunteered by other councils.

Mr Gough added: "Our services have consistently remained under extreme pressure and as offers of transfers have continuously not kept pace with new arrivals, government have had to rely on accommodation in hotels which has furthered compelled the decision to mandate the NTS."

The council added: “This is the right decision for an effective, stable and fair system, not just for Kent services and residents but also for those that have previously volunteered to accept UASC and will ensure that all these children get safe, appropriate care without delay."

The council had threatened to take the government to court over its refusal to implement a compulsory scheme of dispersal.

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