Government In Asylum Funding Row

Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 10:49 GMT
BBC News

Government in asylum funding row
Hillingdon Council deals with the most cases of asylum seeking children

A west London council with the highest caseload of asylum-seeking children in the UK is seeking a judicial review after the government cut its funding.

Hillingdon Council said it needed more money to support about 900 unaccompanied children who had arrived in the country via Heathrow Airport.

It is facing a 6m shortfall since the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) altered asylum seeker grants.

The DfES said it did not comment on on-going legal cases.

The council has warned it could be forced to increase council tax and cut jobs unless it finds more money.

Financial burden

It said it was seeking a judicial review of the DfES's decision to change its funding during the financial year.

Last year the council axed about 250 jobs after the government made changes to asylum seeker grants.

The council claims the DfES “rewrote” the rule 10 months into the financial year 2005-06 without proper consultation.

This led to a shortfall of 4.7m during 2005-06 and this deficit is expected to rise to 6m in the current year, which the council has to fund, it said.

Ray Puddifoot, leader of the council, said: “We have a good record of supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people and yet, by not fully funding us, the government is passing the financial burden onto local taxpayers and not allowing us to do our job properly.”