What to do and how to financially care for child asylum seekers coming into our city?
As the futures of human beings are at the centre of this difficult subject we cannot just look at the funding side of the issue. There is more at stake.
However, while we don’t want to be seen to be washing our hands of these children, the financial burden of responsibility should lie fairly and squarely with the government.
The government does recognise this and has set aside upwards of £2.3m to try to relieve pressures created by unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs) on local authorities.
Portsmouth has been given a grant of £188,126 by government to help meet the costs of looking after these people.
But city councillors have slammed the amount as pitiful compared to the true costs incurred with caring for the children, as council leader Donna Jones points out.
She said: ‘It has become a huge issue for us. This problem is putting an additional strain on our child services and social services budgets of around £1m a year.’
In the past year alone up to 70 asylum-seeking children came to the city – eager to start a new life where they are hopefully safe from persecution or whatever it is they are trying to escape from.
So while we have to remember these unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have left or escaped their home country for a multitude of reasons, it is hard enough for councils to provide services for those who live in the city and who contribute to the council coffers through their council tax, let alone find extra cash.
The government needs to dig deep to give these children the help and support they need and deserve.