Child Law

Destitute youngsters unlawfully denied aid by using neighborhood councils

Local councils are unlawfully denying destitute children help because their mother and father’s immigration status is beneath suspicion, the Guardian can reveal. Families whose immigration fame becomes insecure can quickly grow to be destitute because they lose their right to work and get entry to blessings. Such households with dependent kids can search for help below phase 17 of the 1989 Children Act, which states that local councils have a responsibility to provide cash or lodging to ensure a child’s instant desires are met.

Hundreds of those households had been unlawfully denied this support since 2010 because neighborhood authorities have targeted the mother and father’s immigration heritage. Many of the children affected are both British or entitled to British citizenship, and campaigners say it has now come to be normal practice for them to threaten local authorities with prison motions so that you can ensure a fair evaluation. Rupinder Parhar, a coverage officer on the Children’s Society, stated: “For households suffering from the ‘no recourse to public budget’ (NRPF) condition, nearby authorities can assist but regularly refuse a preliminary assessment despite this contradicting the law. We commonly should motel to felony motion in which a local authority does now not offer an evaluation of a family’s wishes.”

Eve Dickson, a coverage officer at Project 17, which supports families seeking to access segment 17, said: “We discover many neighborhood governments is excessively concerned with trying to ‘trap dad and mom out.’ Any inconsistency inside the facts furnished will be used to discredit them and refuse help. Children in those households are being failed because of this pervasive and discriminatory tradition of suspicion.” Ellen Tansey, the senior housing hyperlink worker at Solace Women’s Aid, said victims of home violence are among those who have been unlawfully denied aid. “These youngsters are being allowed down because of their mom’s immigration status. There’s a challenge that had the parent been British, at least an evaluation could be explored, while once they’re no longer, the door is regularly shut,” she stated.


Rebecca, a mother in her early 30s who preferred not to give her ultimate name, said she had been made to feel like a crook remaining summer season when she sought a phase 17 guide from Croydon council for her six-year-antique British daughter. She said she turned into denied aid for several months, notwithstanding being homeless and that the council most effective stepped in while an attorney threatened felony motion. “After all the pain, they sooner or later agreed to help. However, it becomes a struggle. I don’t need everybody to go through what I went through. It becomes too much. My infant became left hating existence,” she stated.

In any other case, a mom of three become pressured to sleep in a bus haven along with her 3 youngsters after the Sandwell council refused her application for phase 17 help. Mary, 35, who desired now not to provide her real call, said she was constantly refused aid for 5 months and told her circle of relatives had no proper to live in the UK. “They began accusing me in front of my children that I am mendacity about who I am and my situation. They stated I should cross back to my u. S. With my kids. They said my youngsters are unlawful immigrants and don’t belong here,” she stated.

Mary’s legal professional obtained a courtroom order obliging the local authority to house her circle of relatives, which it unnoticed till threatened with criminal prosecution. With the assist of ASIRT, an business enterprise that helps asylum seekers and undocumented migrants inside the West Midlands, Mary turned eventually granted phase 17 aid. Still, she said the revel in had left her traumatized. Dave Stamp, a senior caseworker at ASIRT, stated youngsters, and frequently British kids, have to turn out to be casualties of the “antagonistic environment” installed place for the duration of Theresa May’s tenure as domestic secretary. “Essentially, we have come to assume that kids will be left destitute without the possibility of legal motion,” he stated.

Jane Williams, the founder of the Magpie Project, which helps destitute families within the east London borough Newham, said: “Families are being left to fend for themselves. We’ve had children who have been growing to become out onto the street with their parents on a Friday night and advised to return lower back on a Monday morning, even though they have got nowhere to head. It’s surely terrifying that there are children in these united states who are being neglected and stored destitute.”

The Labour MP Kate Osamor stated: “It is unconscionable that children inside the UK today are going without sufficient to devour and a safe vicinity to sleep. Much of this is right down to governmental departments’ incompetence. Still, a lot is all the way down to local government intentionally putting up boundaries to families looking for section 17 support.”

A spokesperson for Croydon Council said: “Our obligation of care to an infant in want – segment 17 of the Children’s Act – continually comes first, irrespective of their own family’s immigration repute. When a family with no recourse to public finances is stated to us for support, we will conduct an initial evaluation to determine their instances. If it’s miles clear that an instantaneous offer of help is important, for instance, subsistence or safe haven, we can offer this on a ‘without prejudice basis, pending the belief of a segment 17 evaluation.”

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