TACT is pleased that the National Transfer Scheme has finally been made compulsory for all Local Authorities to care for unaccompanied asylum seeking children equally among themselves. It is something that TACT has been campaigning for since the inception of the scheme in 2016, and it is regrettable that it was not made compulsory much sooner.
Unfortunately, the Home Office continues to underfund the true costs of caring for unaccompanied children, placing undue pressure on Local Authority budgets. TACT has consistently campaigned that the Home Office cover Local Authorities for the full expense of looking after unaccompanied children, and simplify the process by which they are refunded.
TACT remains deeply concerned about the potential for many of these children to be placed in unregulated accommodation. The recent ban on the use of unregulated accommodation only applies to those aged 15 or younger. As the majority of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are aged 16 and 17, many are at risk of being placed in unacceptable accommodation that enhances their vulnerability.
It is never acceptable to place children in unregulated accommodation. Children new to the UK, who may have limited English skills and are in an entirely different country and culture, desperately need the support of a foster carer or regulated children’s home.
TACT would welcome the Local Government Association taking over the front door in Kent and leading on all age assessments and family finding responsibilities. The Home Office’s use of highly dubious and often intrusive “scientific methods” to determine age are completely unacceptable, inaccurate and fail to take into account the child’s vulnerability and need for support. These unaccompanied children, who have often experienced great trauma and hardship during their journeys to the UK, deserve far more compassionate and caring treatment.