Portsmouth council is looking after three times the amount of asylum-seeking children than it should

'EVERY council needs to help' - that was the message of councillors as Portsmouth is continuing to look after three times the amount of asylum-seeking children that it should.

Saturday, 13th July 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 13th July 2019, 7:05 am
Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson

Despite a national scheme set up to move unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASCs) to other authorities as well as a boost in funding, Portsmouth's council leader has warned the city is still facing the brunt of the issue.

At the end of June, Portsmouth City Council was caring for 98 young people in need of asylum, showing little change since last year after the government was lobbied for help.

Council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: 'We have about three times as many asylum-seeking children as we should have.

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'The government refuse to enforce the scheme they created.

'People in Portsmouth are incredibly generous and for people in real need who have nowhere else to turn to they are very welcoming. But we can't do this for everybody. All councils need to do their bit.'

It comes after London Councils (LC) stated that no unaccompanied children were transferred from London through the Home Office's national transfer scheme in the first quarter of this year, compared to 33 who were transferred in the same period in 2018.

The city's children and families boss Cllr Rob Wood urged other authorities to put the needs of children first. He said: 'All councils are overspending in children's services, the best thing we can do is help each other out for the benefit of the children.

'Some councils have offered to take on children from us but it is only a small handful. There are a lot more authorities in the south east that need to step up to the mark.'

Previously authorities were given between £91 and £95 a night by the government for each asylum-seeking child. In April it was announced this would be increasing to £114.

A Home Office spokesman said: 'The Home Office is committed to supporting a more balanced distribution of children across the UK, which is why the National Transfer Scheme was introduced in 2016.

'Since then, nearly 900 children have been transferred to authorities with capacity to look after them.'