A number of constituents have been in touch with me regarding child migrants and the so-called Dubs amendment.
The scheme has not closed, as reported by some. The Government was obliged by the Immigration Act to put a specific number on how many children we would take based on a consultation with local authorities about their capacity. This is the number that has been published and the UK Government will now be working in Greece, Italy and France to transfer further children under the amendment. The Government has made it clear that behind these numbers are children and it’s vital that we get the balance right between enabling eligible children to come to the UK as quickly as possible and ensuring local authorities have capacity to host them and provide them with the support and care they will need.
The Government has also always been clear that we do not want to incentivise perilous journeys to Europe, particularly by the most vulnerable children. That is why children must have arrived in Europe before 20 March 2016 to be eligible under section 67 of the Immigration Act. In the last year, we have granted asylum or another form of leave to over 8,000 children and of the over 4,400 individuals resettled through the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement scheme so far, around half are children.
This week the Government announced that in accordance with section 67 of the Immigration Act (the so-called Dubs amendment) we will transfer 350 children to meet the intention and spirit behind the amendment. This number includes over 200 children already transferred under section 67 from France, and will include a further 150 over the coming months. I am told that the Government consulted extensively with local authorities over several months to reach this number. Where local authorities have extra capacity to take children then then they should offer to participate in the National Transfer Scheme.
We are facing around 3,000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children arriving in Britain each year and only a small number of councils are taking a disproportionate share of the burden in caring for these children. You may wish to contact your Councillors and encourage them to press for more to be done locally, or perhaps offer to take in a child migrant yourself. The more people who can help, the greater the number we can bring in.