Cash Plea As Asylum Costs Spiral

Cash plea as asylum costs spiral
Nov 21 2007

THE SOARING cost of looking after child asylum seekers has led to Solihull Council making an urgent appeal to the Government for more financial help.

Council leader Ken Meeson says Solihull needs at least 1.9 million extra a year to care for youngsters who arrive in this country without their parents, often from war zones such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur.

He joined other local authority leaders at a top-level meeting at Westminster to call for more money from the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Home Office.

In comparison, Birmingham City Council says it needs an extra 926,000 a year.

Councillor Meeson, who is cabinet member for education and children, said the reason for the relatively high number of young people needing care in Solihull was because it is the location for a regional immigration office where unaccompanied children can register for asylum.

“The council is responsible for looking after these vulnerable children – housing and educating them and meeting their social needs,” he said. “We can't just throw them out on the street.

“We are responsible at present for more than 300 children. Most are teenagers, although they can be as young as 10.

“We find homes for them with foster parents and look after their education. Some have gone on from school to college and even university.

“All this is costly – and the Government owes us money for back years.”

He was joined at the meetings by other local authority leaders from authorities that cover the likes of Dover and Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

The councils as a whole claim they face a financial burden of 35 million for housing, educating and caring for children.

They have written a joint letter, asking for increased funding, which has been sent to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.