National Transfer Scheme confirmed as mandatory

Kevin Foster has written to all local authorities with children’s services across the UK to inform them of the government’s intention to temporarily mandate the National Transfer Scheme.

Under this change all local authorities have been given legal notice to accept transfers of children into their care, providing crucial placements to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

The government has said that the decision to mandate the scheme is vital to ensure unaccompanied asylum-seeking children receive the critical care they need and end the use of hotels for them following the unprecedented recent pressure placed on the asylum system.

The Home Office will consider a number of factors when transferring children to a local authority including the existing child population, the number of supported asylum seekers and pressures on children’s services, and the best interests of the child. Local authorities will not need to accept unaccompanied asylum-seeking children where this cohort already makes up 0.07% or more of their general child population.

Foster, the Minister for Safe and Legal Migration, said: “It’s right we do all we can to protect unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, many of whom have gone through dangerous journeys and been exploited by despicable people smugglers. I am grateful for the continued, and invaluable, support of local authorities across the country who have provided crucial placements to vulnerable young asylum-seekers. This decision has not been taken lightly but it is in the best interests of these children to make sure they receive the support they need.”

Children and Families Minister Will Quince added: “It is often the case that some of the most vulnerable children in our care are unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. Through the National Transfer Scheme, we know that many councils across the country have already stepped up to fulfil their duty to care for these children. But this responsibility must be more equally shared between councils, which is why we will be mandating temporary transfers where appropriate, so that these children can access the support services they need and become successful members of their local communities.”

James Jamieson, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: “Councils have a proud history of welcoming new arrivals in their communities and the majority of councils have stepped forward voluntarily to offer homes and support to asylum-seeking children. The LGA remains committed to working closely with central and local government to support the asylum system for children and adults, in both the short and the long term in a fair and transparent way.
“Councils will want to continue to work closely with government to ensure the rights and needs of children are at the heart of these new arrangements. These need to enable local partners to give children the help they need, including mental and physical health support and appropriate education.
“Councils continue to face challenges in finding appropriate homes, with ongoing issues around centrally-led age assessment and delays in decision-making adding uncertainty for both councils and young people. These new arrangements must continue to swiftly take into account existing pressures in local areas, with greater join-up across government to improve engagement with councils on all the programmes that support new arrivals to start new lives in the UK.”

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The Security Event is set to be the first major exhibition to take place in the sector when it opens its doors on 7-9 September 2021 at the NEC in Birmingham and for the first time it will also encompass the National Cyber Security Show.

digitech21 will seek to demystify the increasingly complex technology landscape and will showcase a host of public sector best practice case studies and the very best solution providers, each of whom are helping organisations to transform and improve the way in which the public sector delivers services to the citizen.

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