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Bromley stops taking in children seeking asylum

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 May 2019

The number of asylum-seeking children in Bromley.

The number of asylum-seeking children in Bromley.

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Bromley is the first council in London to stop taking in asylum-seeking children until the government stumps up the cash to fund them.

The revelation comes following accusations the borough is becoming "hostile" to ethnic minorities.

London councils are part of an agreement to take in a proportion of vulnerable children separated from their families, which for Bromley equates to roughly 47.

As the council closes its accounts for the year, new documents reveal that: "in February Bromley removed itself from the rota and will not receive any further young people."

Opposition leader Angela Wilkins said the council has lost its moral compass.

She said: "I acknowledge the costs and difficulties some of these people bring in, but they are extremely vulnerable people.

"Bromley accepted the agreement until February, then unilaterally pulls out of it. It didn't pull out because we had met a target, because we haven't.

"As far as we are aware we are the only London council to pull out of it. Who decided this, who knows about it and why is it buried in small print?

"Thinking back to the last time this council met and the response to Christchurch, when taking the two things together I have some serious worries about at best, what seems to be an attitude approaching hostility to ethnic minorities in this borough, and at worse, faint tones of racism."

The council contentiously shortened a Labour motion in response to the New Zealand attack, removing specific references to the Muslim community and instead paying tribute to victims of all terror attacks.

The administration denied being at all discriminatory towards ethnic minorities, instead saying it needed Government money before it agrees to take on more vulnerable youngsters.

Cash-strapped London councils have to foot the bill for vulnerable youngsters, which can cost a "tremendous amount" once they reach adulthood, leader Colin Smith said on Wednesday night.

"The Labour group have nothing to offer other than petty party political point scoring", the leader said.

"Desperately sad, they really need to raise their game.

"This is a very serious issue across London. There is a requirement to meet the 0.07 target, which Bromley has honoured and will honour.

"But after that point, what we have said to the government and have the agreement of other London councils, including some Labour ones, is that we will require funding for it because we cannot afford to take anymore.

"The budget implications of accepting an unlimited number of people in desperate need has pushed the budget for children into significant overspend.

"What we have seen here is the start of a campaign led by Bromley to tackle the Government on funding restrictions.

"We will force this issue and ensure the just-worthy cause is honoured, whilst at the same time getting the funding required to look after these kids."

Earlier this year London Councils report a "substantial shortfall" between local government funding and the actual cost of caring for asylum seeking children.

Bromley Council currently has 49 asylum seeking children under its responsibility.

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