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Asylum: Children

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans she has to reimburse the outstanding costs incurred by local authorities in caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children in (a) 2006, (b) 2007 and (c) 2008; and what plans she has to provide local authorities with 100 per cent. of their future funding to care for unaccompanied asylum seeking children. (203514)

The Home Office provides a grant to local authorities for the provision of support to unaccompanied asylum seeking children aged under 18. All authorities have been fully funded up to national rates in 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 for cases supported under the grant instructions. Those authorities on enhanced rates have also been fully funded up to their enhanced rate claim value for 2005-06 and 2006-07. In addition the authorities identified as gateways received 100 per cent. of special circumstances claimed for 2005-06 and 70 per cent. for 2006-07. The other authorities that claimed were awarded 82.5 per cent. and 38.5 per cent. of their claim respectively.

All outstanding claims for 2007-08 are due from local authorities by 31 July 2008.

There are no plans to increase funding levels for previous years, and the budget remains fixed for 2007-08. Discussions on this matter are on- going with representatives from the Local Government Association and London councils.

In January 2008, we set out in the paper “Better Outcomes: The Way Forward—improving the Care of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children” (a copy of which is in the Library, DEP2008-0274) our plans to enter into new arrangements with selected local authorities who would become specialists in the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking children. These new arrangements would simplify funding and mean that the specialist authorities receive payment in full for the services they provide.