Local government leaders across the UK are calling on ministers to give them more money to cope with unaccompanied child asylum seekers.
The government reimburses councils caring for unaccompanied minors between £71 and £114 a day per asylum seeker, however council leaders say this is nowhere near enough as some traumatised children require specialist help.
“The funding is completely inadequate. Children who may have suffered significant trauma will need a lot of support on their arrival,” said David Simmonds, who chairs the Local Government Association’s asylum task group.
He warned that unless the government increased funding, councils may have to divert money from other services: “It costs on average £50,000 a year to support a child in care. We need to make sure that councils which come forward and offer to take children are properly resourced so they are not paying for youngsters at the expense of supporting other local residents including children and the elderly.”
The Times reports that Britain’s local councils are currently supporting more than 4,000 unaccompanied minors, with many authorities across the country taking a share.
“We are already working with government to ensure that unaccompanied children currently in the care of English councils are not disproportionately located in a small number of areas,” Mr Simmonds added.
Earlier this week, the European statistics agency Eurostat revealed that some 90,000 unaccompanied minors sought asylum in the European Union last year, a fourfold increase on 2014.
However, questions were raised as how many were genuinely underage following numerous incidents of adult migrants claiming to be under 18 so they could not be deported.
Sweden proved especially popular for unaccompanied migrant children, with four in 10 applying for asylum in the country, but two incidents of violence involving adults posing as children led to calls for more stringent checks.
In one incident, an asylum centre volunteer was stabbed by a man who claimed to be 15 but was in fact nearer 20 years old. Separately, a migrant stabbed a woman and slashed her across the face when she refused his sexual advances. He had also posed as a minor but turned out to be an adult.