“With the vast majority of refugee children aged 16 or 17, this change in funding needs to be followed through so that care leaving costs, which are equal to or greater than those of non-UASC, are fully funded, as this remains the main barrier to councils taking on responsibility for ever-growing numbers."
Responding to an announcement by the Government that councils will receive more funding to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC), Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Asylum, Migration and Refugee Task Group, said:
“Councils have a strong track record supporting those resettling in the UK and are committed to providing the best support possible.
“The amount of money spent by councils on providing vital care and support for unaccompanied children seeking asylum has almost doubled in four years as a result of a sharp increase in numbers. We are pleased that the Government has listened to councils by announcing new funding to help tackle some of this rising cost pressure and to help meet joint commitments to support children starting a new life in the UK.
“Given that councils have seen an increase of more than 50 per cent in two years in unaccompanied children leaving care when they turn 18, we hope the Government’s ongoing review of support for care leavers addresses this remaining cost pressure.
“With the vast majority of refugee children aged 16 or 17, this change in funding needs to be followed through so that care leaving costs, which are equal to or greater than those of non-UASC, are fully funded, as this remains the main barrier to councils taking on responsibility for ever-growing numbers.
“Councils are already under massive financial pressure supporting children in care, with children’s services in England facing a £3.1 billion funding gap by 2025. It is vital the Government uses the Spending Review both to plug this gap and to fully fund councils’ support of unaccompanied children, young people and families.”
Notes to editors
- The number of asylum-seeking children and young people in care in England under 18 rose from 2,760 in 2014/15 to 4,480 in 2017/18
- There were 4,660 unaccompanied children leaving care in 2016, which went up to 7,130 in 2018.
- Councils spent more than £152 million on unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in 2017/18 – an increase of 95 per cent on the £77 million spent in 2014/15.
- The LGA’s #CouncilsCan campaign aims to influence the forthcoming Spending Review and highlight the growing risk to vital local services if the Government does not take action to secure the financial sustainability of councils. Visit our campaign page for more information.
#CouncilsCan: Spending Review 2019
With the right funding and powers, councils can continue to lead local areas, improve residents’ lives, reduce demand for public services and save money for the taxpayer. Securing the financial sustainability of local services must be the top priority for the Spending Review.