The Home Office and Department for Education have today (1 July) launched a new voluntary transfer arrangement between local authorities for the care of unaccompanied children who arrive in the UK and claim asylum.
The National Transfer Scheme has been launched to encourage all local authorities to volunteer to support unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) so there is a more even distribution of caring responsibilities across the country.
Under the scheme, a child arriving in one local authority area already under strain caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children may be transferred to another council with capacity.
The new arrangements were created after extensive consultation with the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Children’s Services and local authorities.
In support of the scheme, the government has also increased the amount of funding that it will provide to local authorities caring for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, with annual support for each child aged under 16 rising from £34,675 to £41,610.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said:
The UK has a proud tradition of offering sanctuary to all those in need of protection, including vulnerable asylum-seeking children and ensures their welfare and safety is at the heart of every decision made. This scheme has been established to promote a fairer distribution of caring responsibilities across the country in a way that protects the best interests of those children.
Local authorities have been tremendously generous in caring for migrant children, and we hope many more will come forward and share this important responsibility. We will continue to work closely with local authorities, devolved administrations and our other partners to implement this scheme, which will support councils such as Kent and Croydon who are caring for high numbers of UASC.
An interim transfer protocol which sets out the responsibility of a local authority when the child first arrives, the role of the central team in making transfer arrangements, and establishes guidelines about when a child should be transferred out of the area or region, has been published today to support the scheme’s launch.