Kent Council: Services for unaccompanied child asylum seekers at 'breaking point'

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People were rescued off the coast of Sussex and brought into Dungeness last week. Credit: ITV News

Kent County Council say its resources to care for unaccompanied children who cross the Channel have reached 'breaking point'.

It has warned that it may no longer be able to accept new asylum seekers within days.

It comes as nearly 600 migrants were intercepted crossing the Channel in three days last week.

Councillors are now preparing legal action against the Home Office to ensure a mandatory National Transfer Scheme, so that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) are sent to other parts of the UK.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

In the last 9 months, although the council says it welcomed government support in the transfer of some UASC out of Kent, 'assistance with age assessments and additional funding the substantive changes needed to prevent a repeat have not been made'.

It says Kent currently has 'nearly double the number of UASC in care the government says it is safe to have'.

The proposed Judicial Review asks the Home Secretary to use her existing powers to direct local authorities other than Kent to receive their 'fair share' of UASC.

Roger Gough said: “I am deeply saddened that we are now seeing a repeat of the same crisis of 9 months ago.

“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 National Transfer Scheme that prevents port authorities such as Kent coming under unmanageable pressure.

"Over this last year we have argued consistently and repeatedly that this must be done through a mandatory system."

Between 1 January and 1 June this year 242 unaccompanied children have arrived on Kent shores and been passed to Kent Children’s Services.

Of these, 52 have been transferred to other local authorities under the voluntary transfer scheme.

The county council says if the Home Office does not respond to its proposals by 17 June, it will proceed to issue a claim for Judicial Review against the Home Secretary.