This week’s meeting of the Conservative Cabinet saw Council Leader Alan Jarrett argue that Medway cannot take on any more Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASCs) due to financial pressures within the budget. This is purely an attempt to distract attention from the lack of Conservative government support for local government

As of October, there were 43 unaccompanied children seeking asylum placed in Medway who are the responsibility of other authorities. Those authorities are responsible for funding them – only a handful are Medway’s direct responsibility.

Only last month, Medway Labour and Co-operative councillors raised the importance of supporting UASCs in Medway at the October Full Council meeting, with Cllr Adam Price asking the Council leader to reconsider his reluctance to support the National Refugee Resettlement Scheme. Whilst other authorities are stepping up to their responsibility and taking a fair share of vulnerable children, Council Leader Jarrett refused to reconsider Medway Council’s current position.

Cllr Clive Johnson, Medway Labour and Co-operative Group’s Spokesperson for Children’s Services said that, ‘It is really disappointing to see Cllr Jarrett use financial pressures as an excuse to evade our collective responsibility to support these children. It is important to remember that Medway has a statutory duty for those UASCs that are Medway’s responsibility.

‘We need the Government to take substantive action to ensure that all local authorities are able to support these vulnerable young people. On the day that the Government has launched the biggest defence budget boost for 30 years, Conservative rhetoric that financial restrictions are the reason behind inaction on UASCs simply will not wash.

‘These most vulnerable young people desperately need our help, and we will continue to urge the Conservatives both locally and nationally to do the right thing.’

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