Kent County Council (KCC) Leader, Roger Gough, and Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services, Sue Chandler have announced that as at 9.00am today (7 December) KCC resumed receiving new arrivals of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) into the council’s care with a warning that a long term solution still needs to be implemented to avoid overwhelming Kent services again.
The council announced on 17 August that, due to the escalated rise in UASC arrivals this year and the failure of the National Transfer Scheme to redistribute UASC arrivals nationally and despite appeals for support from Government and other local authorities, it had breached safe capacity to care for any further new UASC arrivals.
Since then, over 200 new arrivals have been directly transferred to the care of other Local Authorities by the Home Office alongside 186 young people already in Kent’s care. The council has worked consistently with the Home Office on this matter which has seen a reduction in the number of under 18yr old UASC in KCC’s care from 612 on 17 August to 412 on 7 December.
Although this number still places KCC at almost double the national proportion of UASC in care with any local authority under the current National Transfer Scheme, KCC has taken the decision that it now has sufficient resource capacity to receive newly arrived UASC without compromising its statutory duty to offer a safe standard of care to all children in its care – for the time being.
In taking this forward, no new financial burdens will be placed on Kent taxpayers following successful negotiations with the government in June which resulted in the provision of enhanced rates of funding to provide care for UASC.
In a joint statement Roger Gough, Leader of Kent County Council and Sue Chandler, Cabinet member for Integrated Children’s Services said:
“We are extremely grateful for the ongoing dialogue and engagement we have with Chris Philp MP, Vicky Ford MP and the officials in their departments and are confident that we can once again safely provide care and support for new arrivals of vulnerable UASC on our shores.
“We are continuing our work with the Home Office on short, medium and long term plans towards a sustainable and equitable national system for the care of UASC to avoid placing reception authorities such as Kent under unfair and intolerable burden in the future.”