The government has agreed to pay an additional £4million per year to Croydon towards the costs the council incurs in caring for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, or UASCs.
Over the past decade, Croydon has looked after more than 5,000 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children because Home Office immigration centre at Lunar House acts as an one of the country’s largest entry points, alongside Heathrow Airport and Dover.
Up to 70 UASC children arrive in Croydon each month. The council claims that the difference between government funding and the actual cost has led to the council having a £9million shortfall each year since 2015.
In a statement issued by the council today, “With support from cross-party colleagues, the council has pushed the government in recent years for fairer funding and calling for more councils nationwide to take their share of UASC arrivals. Although government rules say no council should have UASC of more than 0.07 per cent of its child population, Croydon’s UASC percentage is six times higher, at 0.4 per cent.”
Back-dated to April 1, the Home Office will bring in the following changes:
- Introducing a 25 per cent rise in the daily funding rate for all areas with a high UASC population, including Croydon – to £143 per day per child
- Raising its funding contribution to £240 per UASC care leaver per week
- Allowing councils to claim back the cost of their first 25 UASC care leavers
- Increasing the amount councils receive to support UASC care leavers until the age of 25
“Croydon is a diverse and international borough and we are proud to help UASC children in need, but unfair funding has cost us millions each year,” Tony Newman, the leader of the council, said.
“This government announcement is good news for Croydon, as it means an extra £4million towards our support for UASC children and puts us in a stronger financial position as we face a long economic recovery from the impact of Covid-19.
“This decision comes after years of Croydon Council working with cross-party colleagues to push our case on fairer UASC funding and get a better deal from government.
“However, although this extra funding is welcome, at a time when all councils’ finances are particularly tight, we still have a multi-million-pound UASC funding shortfall from government and a disproportionately high number of UASC to look after. The National Transfer Scheme is meant to share UASC numbers more evenly around councils nationwide, so we urge ministers to restart the consultation on this as soon as possible.”
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