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DEBATE ON UNACCOMPANIED ASYLUM SEEKING CHILDREN

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Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are the most vulnerable of all asylum seekers Welsh minister for health and s...
Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are the most vulnerable of all asylum seekers Welsh minister for health and social services Jane Hutt said when she opened a plenary debate on the unaccompanied asylum-seeking children special grant report yesterday.

Approval of the report will enable the assembly to reimburse local authorities in Wales for expenditure in taking care of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the last financial year.

Jane Hutt said: 'Local authorities have a responsibility under the Children Act 1989 to provide services for children in need within their area. A child in need can be classified as one who is unlikely to achieve or maintain, or have the opportunity of achieving or maintaining, a reasonable standard of health or development, or whose health or development is likely to be significantly impaired without the provision of services by a local authority, or who is disabled.

'If an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child falls into that definition, authorities have the same duties to provide services for that child, including accommodation, as for any other child in their area who is in need.

'Up to the end of December 1999 payment for accommodation and day to day living expenses for all asylum-seekers was met by special grant arrangements operated by the assembly and the department of health. From 1 January 2000 the home office took responsibility under the new dispersal scheme for accommodation and living expenses of adult asylum-seekers and their families in England and Wales.

'These dispersal arrangements do not apply to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. They are the responsibility of local authorities under their Children Act duties and the assembly therefore retains responsibility for reimbursing them through the grant report being debated today.'

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