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In accordance with the Immigration Act 2016 the Government conducted a comprehensive consultation with local authorities across the UK in order to assess capacity for the care of unaccompanied children. On the 13 May 2016 the then Immigration Minister wrote to all local authorities to provide an update on the launch of the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) and to encourage local authorities to participate in all schemes designed for children. On 7 June 2016 the then Immigration Minister, the Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families and the then Minister with responsibility for Syrian Refugees attended a national launch event in London which was attended by local authorities from across the UK.
This was followed by regional events in Leicester, Exeter, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Huntingdon, Bedford, Birmingham, Manchester, Llandidrod Wells, Edinburgh and two further events in London. These events outlined how unaccompanied children arriving from Europe would be placed into local authority care through the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) and were attended by representatives from over 400 local authorities.
Following this nationwide programme of events, in September 2016 I wrote again to all local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland asking them to confirm how many unaccompanied asylum seeking children they could accommodate under the NTS. Home Office officials also maintained an ongoing dialogue with individual local authorities and regional Strategic Migration Partnerships.
We asked local authorities to consider carefully whether they have the infrastructure and support networks needed to ensure the appropriate care of these unaccompanied children before participating in the NTS
Local authorities told us they had capacity for an additional 400 UASC until the end of the 2016/17 financial year. This is in addition to the unaccompanied children already in local authority care. We estimate that at least 50 of the family reunion cases will require a local authority placement in circumstances where the reunion does not work out
It is for individual local authorities to decide the number of children they are able to accommodate but we continue to work with those not currently participating in the National Transfer Scheme to support them to do so at the earliest opportunity.