Councils foot MASSIVE bill for more than 5,000 migrant children
CASH-STRAPPED councils are being forced to plug million-pound black holes left by the gap between what child migrants cost and what the Home Office provides.
The Home Office does not provide nearly enough fund to cope with the child refugees
Local authorities are paying out for care, immunisations, health checks, clothes and activities for teenagers coming over from Calais, while closing libraries, slashing creche hours and scrambling to save money after massive Tory cuts.
A report by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) has revealed councils are being forced to spend out on supporting teens after the Government's decision to take on more children from Calais.
According to the report the number of lone child migrants in England has more than doubled from 2,050 in March 2014 to 4,210 in March 2016.
The revealing dossier showed among the 106 authorities which responded to the ADCS, 5,673 children were supported by local authorities in England in 2015/16.
Currently, 92 percent of the migrants being looked after in England are male, and 76 percent are aged 16 or 17.
The news comes as many of the migrants arriving from Calais appeared to be older than they claimed.
Last year, there were 789 age disputes, compared to 318 in 2014.
Councils told the ADCS the number of migrants lying about their age is rising.
It is now imperative that councils get a long-term funding arrangement
Cllr David Simmonds
Of this number two thirds were considered to be over the age of 18 when an assessment request was raised.
And the cost for the councils just keeps on rising.
The report states: "The result was overwhelming. 43 of 44 local authorities who answered this question felt that national funding was not sufficient, despite examples of robust action being taken to manage and reduce costs.
"Thirty-eight authorities described the gap as being of concern, but six added that the gap for care leavers who were Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) was an even greater concern.”
76 per cent of the child refugees coming to the UK are 16 or 17
Local authorities which responded explained they ended up caring for the children who arrived in their areas.
The report said: "The increasing number of new arrivals, when added to those already looked after, indicates a significant and cumulatively growing cohort.
"The most common way children end up in certain areas is what is referred to as the ‘lorry stop lottery’.”
The daily rates for UASC taken into care before 1st July 2016 are £95 for under 16 year olds and £71 for 16-17 year olds.
After July 1 this figure goes up to £114 for under 16s and £91 for 16 and 17 year olds.
One authority estimated the shortfall in funding at £60,000 per child in 2015/16.
Another, which claimed for 50 minors was given £1.3m from the Government, but spends £2.1m
Three authorities predicted budget pressures in the region of £1.5m to £2m as a result of the increasing number of lone migrant children
And this is all against the backdrop of a national shortage of foster care payments.
The report said the burden of paying and looking after the children often falls on "port authorities" where the young people arrive in the country in the first instance.
The strain is so big in Kent children are now being moved to other areas of the country.
Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the Local Government Association's Asylum, Migration and Refugee Task Group, said the Government must commit to helping.
Councils across the UK are demanding more funding from the government
He said: "This report highlights the significant financial commitment that councils make towards the care of these vulnerable children, with Home Office funding often covering only a small part of the overall cost.
"Many councils have been covering this shortfall over many years, and it is now imperative that councils get a long-term funding arrangement from Government so that the commitment to support those children starting a new life in the UK is properly funded for the whole time that these children are with us.
"Councils continue their strong track record of supporting child asylum seekers and over the summer, the number of children being cared for by councils rose to more than 4,600.
“With the Calais camp closing and children arriving in the UK under the Dubs Amendment, this number will now be much higher.
“Every one of these children requires an individual package of care which includes council support from age assessment, a school place, to medical and social care.
“A large number will have also experienced horrendous conditions, so councils will want to ensure they are able to settle into local communities as quickly and easily as possible with ongoing support made available as and when they need it."
Dave Hill, President of the ADCS, said it is the duty of Britain to care for the children as he heaped praise on the "truly commendable" response of local governments.
He said: “These children have experienced so much in their short lives; they have faced unimaginable trauma and danger and have truly beat the odds to be here.
"They are extremely vulnerable and their needs are complex. But they, just like our own children, need and deserve love and support to help them overcome their experiences.
“In recent days and weeks local authorities have accommodated hundreds of unaccompanied children and young people, first from Kent and more recently from Calais.
“Every child and young person, irrespective of how they have arrived in this country, has a right to education or training to help them realise their ambitions."
Hundreds more children are expected to arrive in the coming weeks as French and British authorities clear out the Calais 'jungle' camp.
Children are being transferred to England if they have family here, or they are particularly vulnerable, under the Dubs Amendment to the Immigration Act and under Dublin III arrangements.