Restricted support for migrants leaves children at risk, report finds

A study published by the Children’s Society has warned that moves to restrict support given to migrant families could result in more children becoming homeless, putting them at further rise of exploitation and abuse.

The news comes as the government’s Immigration Bill was defeated in the House of Lords, where peers called on whitehall to take in more child refugees from Europe.

The study, entitled Making Life Impossible, claimed that 40 per cent of migrant families which have made claims for destitution support, have been rejected help. It added that those who were successful in making a claim still experience extreme poverty on a daily basis, with some families having to survive one less than £2 per day per person.

The charity has urged the government to commit a minimum level of support, equal to that given through the benefits system, equivalent to around £110 per week, for a single mother with one child.

Sam Royston, director of policy and research at the Children’s Society, said: “Far too many migrant families in desperate need are already at crisis point, forced to get by on impossibly low levels of support or denied help altogether.”

“Further restricting this support would have a devastating impact, making the lives of incredibly vulnerable children even more precarious.”

Councillor David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association's Asylum, Refugee and Migration Task Group, said: “Councils have a strong track record of supporting refugees and asylum seekers, including children in need of additional support, children travelling alone and those settling in the UK with their families.

“The average support provided by councils to each of the thousands of households without recourse to public funds is more than £15,000 per year. Councils have long been concerned that current immigration legislation is muddled about the support that these families and vulnerable children should receive.

“Clear links need to be made across all the programmes that resettle asylum seekers and refugees to make sure there is enough funding and support services available. Councils have significant safeguarding concerns for children in this position, who could be at risk of slavery or sexual exploitation when forced to rely on informal support.

Simmonds added: “We are therefore keen to engage with the government on the implementation of the Bill to make the role of councils clear and to make sure that refused asylum-seeking families are encouraged to return to their home country before support ends.”

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