Home Office launches consultation on National Transfer Scheme for migrant children


The Home Office has proposed mandating the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) as part of a consultation into the distribution of migrant children across England.

Dover has seen an increase in arrivals of migrants on boats. Picture: Adobe Stock
Dover has seen an increase in arrivals of migrants on boats. Picture: Adobe Stock

The consultation was launched after Kent County Council said it could no longer “safely” care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) due to an influx of arrivals at the Port of Dover between May and August.

Kent said it had received 430 UASC between January and 18 August when it was forced to leave children arriving via boat across the English Channel in the care of Border Force.

The council urged the government to mandate its National Transfer Scheme designed to disperse migrant children across England.

Kent council’s director of children’s services said in July that the council “had not successfully placed a child through the NTS since 2018”.

“No authority can take in 20-30 children a day for weeks on end,” he warned, "this is a national problem that needs a national solution. These people are not choosing to come to Kent, they are choosing to come to England. It just so happens that the one point of the border that is coming through now and that’s Dover.”

Following a plea from Dunkley and council leader Roger Gough, the Home Office has revealed that it has received more than 270 pledges from 70 local authorities to house UASC currently placed in Kent.

It is now consulting on proposals to “revitalise” the scheme which was introduced in 2016. Plans being considered include making the scheme mandatory and introducing a “voluntary rota system between different regions in the UK”.

The consultation closes on 30 September.

Chris Philp, minister for immigration compliance and the courts, said: “We are committed to making sure that the National Transfer Scheme works as effectively as possible for vulnerable unaccompanied children and the local authorities supporting them. The consultation we are launching today seeks to make sure that we are sharing the responsibility for these children in as fair a way as possible.”

Vicky Ford, minister for children and families, added: “Unaccompanied asylum seeking children have often suffered deep trauma and I am extremely grateful to all local authorities who have gone above and beyond to care for these children and young people during these challenging times.

“In order to make sure these children get appropriate care, all local authorities need to share responsibility for looking after them. This consultation will help us get this right, making sure the system is fair for all.”

It is now consulting on proposals to “revitalise” the scheme which was introduced in 2016. Plans being considered include making the scheme mandatory and introducing a “voluntary rota system between different regions in the UK”.

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