Minister says ‘nations of sanctuary’ failing to help asylum-seeking children

A Home Office minister has accused devolved governments and some English councils of declining to help look after unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Chris Philp also criticised those authorities who label themselves “cities of sanctuary or even nations of sanctuary” but do not consent to longer-term accommodation managed by others on behalf of the Home Office.

He name-checked the administrations in Scotland and Wales as ones which could do more to ease the pressure on parts of the south and south east of England.

Speaking in the Commons, Conservative MP Jack Brereton (Stoke-on-Trent South) said his city has resettled the “largest number of refugees in the region” and noted this has put a “significant pressure on our local services”.

He asked: “Would (Mr Philp) look at what more can be done to ensure these local services are not overwhelmed and put more pressure on local authorities in other parts of the country who are not contributing fairly in rehousing refugees?”

Mr Philp thanked Stoke for welcoming “genuine” refugees.

He added: “He raises a very good point because there are some parts of the country who either decline to take unaccompanied asylum-seeking children as part of the national transfer scheme, putting enormous pressure on gateway authorities like Kent, Portsmouth, Croydon and Hillingdon, and many other local authorities who often, despite proclaiming themselves to be cities of sanctuary or even nations of sanctuary, do not give consent for dispersed accommodation for asylum seekers.

“So I would say to any of those local authorities, and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales, please do help us by accepting accompanied asylum-seeking children under the national transfer scheme, particularly from Kent, Portsmouth, Hillingdon and Croydon, and please give consent for dispersed accommodation because it is essential we have that available in order to accommodate people who are seeking asylum.”