Mayor calls for 'Dubs scheme' to remain open
The Mayor of Hackney has called for the ‘Dubs scheme’ for child refugees to remain open, and slammed claims that local councils have not offered to help.
On Tuesday, MPs attempted to secure an amendment to the Child and Social Work Bill, which would have required councils to publically publish their capacity to take child refugees, with the aim of quashing suggestions from the Home Office that local councils do not have the space or resources to support them.
Last month Mayor Philip Glanville and Mayoral Adviser for Homelessness, Cllr Rebecca Rennison, wrote to the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, urging her to reconsider the decision to effectively close the scheme, which Lord Dubs’ original amendment intended to provide a home for around 3,000 child refugees. The Government blamed local authorities for not offering places and has said the scheme will close at the end of April, having only helped 350 child refugees. This has been strongly refuted by councils – including Hackney - whose offers of assistance have not been taken up by the Home Office.
Despite offering to support 42 child refugees, Hackney has not directly received any children through the Dubs scheme so far, although the Council continues to accept newly arrived asylum seeking young people when asked to do so. The Council currently supports 25 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children. A further three refugee families have settled in the borough under the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme - with one more on the way.
We urge the Home Office to see sense and allow local councils to continue to play their part in supporting the innocent victims of the humanitarian crisis which is continuing to devastate lives in Syria.
Hackney has a proud history of offering a safe haven to those most in need and we continue to support a number of unaccompanied children and young people who have arrived here in more recent years.
We offered to support an additional 17 children under the Dubs scheme, our share of the intended 3,000 nationally – and we sincerely hoped to welcome them over the coming months. The Home Office has effectively closed down the opportunity for local areas to support these children who desperately need our help.
We strongly rebut the Government’s claims that local councils have not been forthcoming with support. In fact, when the Calais camp closed, we offered to look after seven children straight away, but the Home Office declined to take up our offer.
We stand ready and prepared to help and have measures in place to support children if and when they arrive. This would not be a short-term commitment. We need central Government to give assurances that long term funding would be available to enable us give these children the high level support they need over the coming years – and of course to keep the Dubs scheme open.