The Home Office and Department for Education is examining changes to the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) to make sure youngsters arriving on the South Coast are evenly spread out across the country. Kent County Council has told how its services are being overwhelmed by the sheer number of unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
Councillor Sue Chandler, the head of Kent’s children’s services, said there is a “long list of authorities who have made the gesture” but stressed how other councils must do more.
Satbir Singh, the chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said it was vital the Government made the NTS mandatory and that local authorities were given the resources they needed.
He said: “The current system is simply not working – it places an outsized burden of care on under-resourced councils in the south-east, who cannot and should not be left to bear all the responsibility.
“Without a fully funded and fully functioning national transfer scheme in place, we will continue to fail vulnerable migrant children. Not one more child should be locked up in adult detention or go without the care they deserve.”
Councillor Sue Chandler, the head of Kent’s children’s services, said small boats are easier for people smugglers to pack children into.
Since 2014, when large numbers of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children started to arrive in Dover, the county council has cared and found homes for more than 1,500.
It is currently responsible for just under 600 under 18-year-olds and 945 young adults, aged 18 to 25.
Vicky Ford, Minister for Children and Families, said: “In order to make sure these children get appropriate care, all local authorities need to share responsibility for looking after them. This consultation will help us get this right, making sure the system is fair for all.”
The consultation will run from August 28 to September 30.