Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)

Briefing and policy updates surrounding Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) in the UK.

UASC definition

  • a person under 18 (or who, in the absence of documentary evidence establishing age, appears to be under that age)
  • is applying for asylum in his or her own right
  • has no relative or guardian in the United Kingdom.

UASC: National Transfer Scheme 

The Government wrote to councils on 13 May with information on the future resettlement scheme for unaccompanied children, which will include the resettlement of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC), children deemed at risk from countries around Syria and children from other European countries into the UK. The first transfers as part of the scheme are expected to begin from 1 July, with a phased introduction from then on.

The scheme aims to be voluntary and locally led, though Government would like to see all councils join the transfer scheme. The Immigration Act 2016 places a duty on councils to provide information about available services and an obligation to set out in writing reasons for not accepting a transfer. It also retains a duty to accept a transfer under a mandatory scheme, both across England and in individual councils, though government have indicated they wish to use these residual powers as a last resort. The Home Office will produce regular data to show the number of asylum-seeking and refugee children in each area. More information is given in a FAQ from the Government.

What services and support will UASC require?

Councils considering what sort of services to develop or expand will wish to note that vast majority of UASC are male (around 90%) and are aged 16 or 17 (over 61%). Eritrea was the largest nationality, followed by Afghanistan and Albania. Half of this age group are placed in semi-independent living arrangements and half are fostered. Nearly all under 16-year-olds are fostered. More information on the Kent cohort under Q4 includes more information on support and accommodation options.

66% of initial decisions on their status post 18 were grants of some form of leave to stay in the UK. The Immigration Act 2016 will introduce new provisions on support for care leavers who have been refused leave to remain.

UASC enter the care of a council as a looked after child and have the same rights to help and support as a child who enters the care system for any other reason. Under previous regulations, children were the responsibility of the council where they first presented. As numbers increased, this has caused capacity issues for those areas which are ports of entry to the UK. The transfer scheme is designed to achieve a more equitable distribution to address these pressures.

How will UASC needs be assessed?

Any child or young person claiming asylum undergo a welfare interviews by the Home Office to collect biometrics and bio data and to establish whether they have immediate health or protection needs. Children are referred to a local authority as soon as possible post arrival or post claiming asylum.

Any child or young person claiming asylum undergo a welfare interviews by the Home Office to collect biometrics and bio data and to establish whether they have immediate health or protection needs. Children are referred to a local authority as soon as possible post arrival or post claiming asylum.

This programme will need to link to other issues and programmes including support for and reducing the risk of children going missing and being trafficked. A package of proposals which aim to strengthen support for children who have been trafficked has recently been announced by Government.

Regional working and the WMSMP role

The West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership will be helping to develop and support the UASC National Transfer Scheme in the region.

The SMP has been charged with a number of tasks. These include:

  • Acting as regional point of contact for the Home Office Central Admin Team in relation to individual cases where transfer is being sought
  • Establishing a local rota or other agreed transfer arrangements with partner LAs in the West Midlands region aimed at achieving a fair and equitable distribution of  cases
  • Work with local authorities and key partners to ensure an effective operational understanding of the scheme.

In addition to this, the SMP, with this additional capacity, will be able to:

  • Monitor the progress and develop an overview of the National Transfer Scheme in the region, keeping  local authorities and other partners informed on a regular basis
  • Gain an understanding the experiences of local authority staff  and partners around the impact for young people of this process
  • Feedback to the Home Office on the collective experience and effectiveness of the programme and suggest any improvements identified in region
  • Coordinate Training  for areas which have been highlighted by a number of  Councils e.g.  Age Assessment, Trafficking  and Human Rights assessments
  • Provide a single point of contact, links, consultation and support to staff in participating Councils
  • Help to develop effective links with the independent sector to gain the benefit of their expertise locally and across the region

For our focus areas please click here

For further details contact wmsmp@birmingham.gov.uk

 

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