Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Council in warning over asylum bill

Kent County Council said dozens of young adults whose asylum claims were rejected remain in the county because of the UKBA's failure to deport them

A Conservative-led council has accused the UK Border Agency of saddling taxpayers with a multimillion-pound bill because of its inaction in deporting failed asylum seekers.

Kent County Council said dozens of young adults who have had their asylum claims rejected remain in the county because of the UKBA's failure to deport them.

Council leader Paul Carter has agreed for the authority to invoice the UKBA every month until it recognises the cost it is passing on to local taxpayers to foot care and support costs.

It costs the UK's largest shire authority £2 million a year to provide care and accommodation to failed asylum seekers, resulting in a bill so far of more than £6 million.

At any one time, the council said it supports more than 100 failed asylum seekers who are not legally allowed to claim state support but are not being deported. Mr Carter said: "The message to Government is clear - either support or deport, but stop expecting local taxpayers to foot the bill.

"Every year we are forced to provide care and accommodation to more than 100 young adults who have had their asylum applications rejected under national legislation. The problem is that Government will not provide any funding to cover this support, because it believes that all rights to state benefits are lost when an asylum application is rejected.

"So the Border Agency rejects their applications, tells them they can have no state support, and then fails to deport them, sending them back to local communities to deal with the problem."

The council has said "conflicting national legislation" exists. Officials say that as long as failed asylum seekers remain in Kent, legislation under the Children's Act forces the authority to provide them with the same support as British care leavers.

The UKBA argues that Kent County Council should not be providing them with benefits or support, a spokesman for the authority said.

Council officials say that to "wash their hands" of failed asylum seekers would breach their human rights and result in expensive legal challenges.

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