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Digest: Boost for unaccompanied child support

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The government has increased the amount councils can receive for supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children by nearly £10m, following an allocation of £19m in the provisional local government finance settlement last month.

Housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid said councils would now receive a total of £28.9m in 2018-19, with £9m allocated to specific projects and the remainder shared between councils currently supporting more than 10 asylum seeking children.

In a statement, Mr Javid said the money will help some councils “step up their support” by providing homes for children living in areas “currently operating at full capacity”.

He added: “[The funding] will also allow councils to reduce local resource pressures to the benefit of their wider communities.”

The government launched the voluntary national transfer scheme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children in July 2016, in an attempt to relieve pressures on councils that had experienced a sharp rise in numbers.

However, as the previous funding formula only covered approximately two-thirds of costs, many councils did not sign up to the scheme.

In October, councils were urged to do more to help house asylum seekers despite concerns about a lack of funding and suitable properties.

Announcing the funding, communities minister Lord Bourne said: “This new funding will enable more councils across England to provide support to those children who need a place to call home.

“The funds will also bring a range of benefits to the whole community by increasing the number of foster carers available and reducing pressures on existing services.”

Lord Bourne added it was “encouraging” that councils currently not providing support had shown “enthusiasm” for welcoming new children.

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