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Rising costs of asylum seekers

THE cost of caring for young asylum seekers is heaping fresh financial pressure on Solihull Council.

THE cost of caring for young asylum seekers is heaping fresh financial pressure on Solihull Council.

Each unaccompanied child or young person costs hundreds of pounds each week to care for.

But cuts in funding from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) have put increasing strain on council finances.

The local authority could be facing a £2.4m overspend this year and the pressure on services has been flagged-up as a risk.

Councillor Joe Tildesley, cabinet member for children and young people, said talks with the UKBA were ongoing.

“There is an immense cost involved and we really must get a grip on this,” he told last week’s cabinet meeting.

“Solihull could be facing costs much higher than larger authorities, who have more staff and money.”

Members heard that the number of children who arrived through Birmingham Airport was “negligible”.

But a large number of youngsters were being placed in Solihull’s care because the UKBA had offices in Homer Road.

Labour leader, Coun David Jamieson, was concerned there was an element of “moral blackmail”.

“No local authority is going to turn away an 11-year-old child and I certainly hope that we never do.

“But nevertheless, there’s still the fact that we’re facing costs that we can’t meet.”

There’s expected to be an increase in the number of young refugees as the political situation continues to deteriorate in the Middle East.

Councillor Ken Meeson, leader of Solihull Council, said: “Every time there is a crisis abroad there will be an influx.

“But we have always said that we will treat them as children first and foremost and provide the services they need.”

 

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