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‘We can once again no longer look after asylum seeking children’ says council

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Original article from Kent Live

Kent County Council says it has once again reached an unsafe capacity and can no longer care for more unaccompanied child refugees.

Leader of the council, Roger Gough announced the news yesterday (June 10) after the number of unaccompanied children in its care rose to more than 400.

It is the second time in the past 12 months the council has had to refuse help to unaccompanied child refugees seeking asylum, after doing so back in August 2020.

From Monday (June 14) unaccompanied asylum seeking children won't be able to seek help from Kent County Council after arriving on our county's shores.


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Mr Gough said he was "profoundly saddened" by the decision and blames the government for not taking action, meaning the council's support resources have become "significantly overwhelmed".

The maximum government recommended number of under 18-year-old, unaccompanied refugees in Kent is 231.

But since the beginning of the year this number has risen to more than 400.

Additionally, the government's recent announcement on keeping the National Transfer Scheme mandatory for local councils, has said to have caused this issue.

The NTS was designed back in 2016 to keep pace with the rate of refugee arrivals and provide timely transfers.

Roger Gough

Mr Gough said: "I am profoundly saddened to be in this unthinkable position once again in such a short period of time.

"Despite warnings, and continued dialogue with the government, Kent’s resources are again significantly overwhelmed.

"I have accepted the advice from our Director of Children’s Services that reluctantly, from Monday, June 14 we will no longer be able meet our statutory duty to safely care for the children we support and can therefore accept no further new arrivals until sufficient transfers have been made outside of Kent bringing our numbers back to safe levels.

"I am deeply disappointed that, after having admitted that the voluntary NTS scheme is not working, government have still not invoked their powers to mandate and the proposed new NTS announced today remains voluntary.

"As we have experienced over the past few years, there is absolutely no evidence that a voluntary National Transfer Scheme has kept pace with the ever-escalating new arrivals on our shores.

"Having diagnosed the problem in 2016 and established the prescription of the NTS, the government has used the placebo of a voluntary NTS instead of the cure of a mandated scheme.

"Kent residents have been waiting a number of years for a long-term national solution to the ongoing disproportionate strain on local services.

"While there have been a number of welcome measures from government – to the benefit of the Kent council taxpayer – we have not seen what is most needed: a robust mandatory National Transfer Scheme for ALL local authorities.

“We now await the Home Secretary’s response to our Letter Before Claim.

“If every other local authority in the UK were to take two or three under 18-year-olds who arrive at Dover into their care, Kent’s numbers would reduce to the council’s safe allocation immediately.

"This remains, a small problem for the nation to resolve but a huge and unreasonable responsibility for Kent."

Original Article