Freedom of Information Request 30 by cometjunkie43

VIEWS: 20 PAGES: 45

									1. Has your authority, either individually or as part of a 'Consortia' or
'Association' of authorities or strategic migration partnership (SMP), had
any meetings or discussions with UK Border Agency officials
concerning the possibility of you becoming ‘specialist authorities’ or
setting up of a regional 'assessment centre' for unaccompanied asylum
seeking children under the UASC reform programme? Please state
whether you were approached individually or as part of a ‘Consortia’ or
'Association' of authorities or strategic migration partnership (SMP).

Yes, Manchester City Council was approached individually, as an Association
with other AGMA Authorities, and under the auspices of the SMP.

2. If the answer to the first part of question 1 is ‘yes’, please provide:
a) copies of the minutes of all meetings between UK Border Agency or
other Government, SMP, Consortia or Association officials and your
authority relating to your possible role as ‘specialist authorities’ or
setting up of a regional 'assessment centre' and ;
b) Any file note relating to conversations with any such officials relating
to the same matter.


                    MIGRANT CHILDREN SUB GROUP

MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON TUESDAY 23RD SEPTEMBER 2008

North West Trafficking Seminar: Feedback and Discussion

7.1   Save the Children asked Government Office Northwest (GONW) how
      the issues identified in the document circulated to group members are
      going to be taken forward.

7.2   Government Office Northwest said that this was a problem because
      there is no specific group in the region on trafficked children. The
      Regional Strategic Safeguarding Children Board (RSSCB) can‟t take
      the work forward because they are a strategic – and not operational –
      body. As a result, GONW are tendering for further activity, for someone
      to identify the key issues and provide recommendations for the local
      Safeguarding Children Boards.

7.3   UKBA commented that he thinks RSSCB and GONW are in the best
      position to take the work forward. The work is of a strategic nature
      because a strategic framework is needed.

7.4   GONW noted that a website is about to be launched that lists the
      relevant procedures for public bodies to follow when they think a child
      might be a trafficked child.

8.2   UKBA
      ● UKBA reported that UKBA is still consulting with Local Authorities on
      arrangements for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The major
           issue is what happens to them once they turn 18. The idea of setting
           up Specialist Authorities has considerable support.



                          MIGRANT CHILDREN SUB-GROUP

        Minutes of the meeting held on23rd April 2009 at Manchester Town Hall

    6.0 Update on UASC Reform
    6:1 Manchester City Council gave a brief verbal report on discussions between local
        authorities and the UKBA on the proposed reform programme. The issue of
        funding for aftercare services to over-18s is not yet resolved. Local authorities
        are encouraged to continue to negotiate with UKBA, but not to enter into any
        agreement until this matter is resolved.




                    Minutes of ADCS/ ADASS Asylum Taskforce
                    Held on Tuesday 5th May 2009 in Manchester

3. Future Developments of UASC Reform programme
UKBA talked through developments in UASC reform programme. The main points
were:
 UKBA are pursuing the Specialist Authority Model.
 Post 18 cases need to be resolved either through legislation or agreement.
 They can‟t impose solutions onto Local Authorities so looking to move towards
   agreement.
 This should not preclude them from gathering information about costs from Local
   Authorities.
 UKBA need to do a full analysis to gain understanding of costs of UASC and make
   decisions regarding future funding models.
 They are due to meet with Regional Migration Partnerships on 19th May 2009 where
   they will ask them to obtain costs from Local Authorities. They will want information
   by Mid July.
 UKBA have approached Kent and will be approaching other Gateway authorities.
 UKBA will produce a cost template to send out to Local Authorities.
 They are aiming to have the Specialist Authority Model defined and agreed by the
   end of the year.

Leaving Care Funding
 Was first distributed in 2001/2002 and was ring fenced for 3 years. It now falls under
   the Revenue Support Grant. Only 50% of this grant is now used on leaving care.
 It is only supposed to be a contribution but having provided it once they are being
   asked for further funding.
 There is little scope for additional claimants in the future.
 Hillingdon pointed out that the argument that funding has already been allocated
   was successfully contested by LAs.
   Hillingdon suggested that UKBA circulates the template to members of the group for
    comment and amendment prior to circulation.

Age Assessments
 A working group has been established with the aims of producing a paper on best
   practice for age assessments. Judgement is due on Friday on the Kent Judicial
   Review. Once judgement is out the paper will be distributed.

   There is another set of proceedings which may have a big impact. It is around to
    what extent Local Authority Age Assessments comply with Article 6 of the Human
    Rights Act (the right to a fair hearing by an independent tribunal.)


Questions – UASC reforms
Kent – Are all Gateway LAs being approached?
UKBA– Yes but so far they have only approached Kent.

Hillingdon – lots of work is going on with Joint Councils re costing UASC and
standardising cost models. Different authorities will have different cost models.
UKBA – They are using a template drawn up by ADCS/ LGA two years ago.
Hillingdon – This is now out of date. A new template with comprehensive guidance is
required.
Sandwell – what about LAs who don’t have many UASC duties but where UASC are
accommodated from outside the area – hidden costs?
UKBA will be asking LAs to provide that information. There will be a section for
additional costs. Template can include analysis of cost where child is placed.

Kent – there needs to be clear differentiation between port and receiving Authorities.
More clarity is needed e.g. what the template is, what it includes, which regions is it
meant for.

Birmingham – There is a growing trend for young people to appear unaccompanied and
then identify a relative/ someone they say is a relative to look after them. This is unlikely
to be reflected in the template.

Kent – Funding needs to be addressed for kinship assessments. Care needs to be
taken to ensure young people aren’t being used as a means to obtain funding.

UKBA – This is an ongoing issue. Work is going on in UKBA outside of the UASC
reform programme.

Hillingdon - Need to look at real work done. E.g. Age assessments in detention centres.

Hounslow – Problem with the Revenue Support Grant is that it doesn’t cover the total
cost of what it is supposed to be used for.

Northamptonshire – Does this replace the scoping out bids idea?
UKBA – It is the first part of that process, but may have to reconsider depending on
outcome of cost analysis.
Hillingdon – There need to be clear rules of engagement re who to approach and when.
UKBA – Gateway and other Local Authorities are different and will be treated
differently.

UKBA – Does the group have any alternative suggestions?
Hillingdon– There needs to be a high level meeting between DCs and UKBA.

UKBA have to settle grant claims in June/ July and will look at strategic ways of
continuing those costs. However the 2008 grant claim letter from UKBA came with a
caveat that LAs would actively engage with the UASC reform programme. This position
still stands.

West midlands strategic partnership – A template seems like a way forward. It will help
everyone speak the same language. However it needs to be a prescriptive model. What
was produced two years ago was a set of guidelines.

Kent – Without seeing the template it is difficult to see if it will be sophisticated enough.

Action Points:
UKBA will forward template to Hillingdon for distribution

Agenda item for next meeting – look at template

Hillingdon to ensure someone from DCFS attends next meeting




                                STAKEHOLDER GROUP

    MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON THURSDAY 11th DECEMBER 2008

    Migrant Children Sub-group.
          Current work of the group centred on the Unaccompanied Asylum
          Seeking Children (UASC) Reform Programme. Following the
          withdrawal of Save the Children from asylum and refugee work, and
          the transfer of the lead from The Children‟s Society to other duties, the
          sub group would need to elect a new Chair and Vice-chair.

    10.3   UASC Reform. UKBA reported back on a workshop conducted for
           Local Authorities in the region. A rep from UKBA would come to a
           future RSMP stakeholder meeting to discuss USAC reform.




                          MIGRANT CHILDREN SUB GROUP
MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON WEDNESDAY 21st JANUARY 2009

4.0 UKBA spoke on the new Borders Immigration and Citizenship Bill and
how it relates to the care of children seeking asylum. Currently the UKBA has
no duty of care under existing legislation, however section 11 of the Bill will
give them this duty. At the moment they work to their Code of Practice when
assessing children‟s claims to asylum. Current practice is geared towards
adults and the UKBA‟s main concern continues to be protecting UK borders
against illegal entry and residence in the UK.

4.1 The Bill is a response, among other things to the concerns about child
trafficking and exploitation. The UKBA consulted widely on these issues which
included focus groups with varied professionals involved. The response has
been a recommendation for a formal Code of Conduct and Duty of Care within
the UKBA. The Code of Practice which contains this remit was approved by
Parliament on the 6th Jan 2009.

4.2 Previously the service provided by the UKBA was not seen as child
friendly. The current code of guidance attempts to make the service more
approachable and training is being provided to staff to enable them to work
with children in accessing their asylum claim and how their asylum journey
has transpired. The policy remains that failed asylum seeker children will be
returned to original destinations but from now on the UKBA works with the
relevant agencies such as Social Services to establish an individual child‟s
special requirements, and UKBA aim to build on a single case ownership role
in a supportive way.

4.3 The Immigration Bill was published on the 15th Jan 2009 and within this
the UKBA has to maintain a child for one year whilst investigating the
possibility that he or she may have been trafficked in parallel to the asylum
claim.

4.4 UKBA then answered questions in connection with the presentation,
clarifying to the meeting that the new legislation will harmonize Immigration
legislation with Child Protection legislation.

4.5 Manchester City Council then thanked UKBA and requested that UKBA
give an update on the impact of the new legislation at the next meeting.



               Minutes of the ADCS/ADASS Asylum Taskforce
              Held on Thursday 12 February 2009 in Birmingham

      The Post 18 Working Group held their first meeting in January.

      There was some concern regarding primary legislation for removing
      ownership of those leaving care from LAs to UKBA.
       LAs are reluctant to sign up to UASC reform programme unless it is clear
       what the objectives are and the issue of funding is clarified.

       The reform programme will not progress until the issue of funding is sorted
       out.

       LGA – the point regarding funding was made to the minister at LGA taskforce
       meeting
       Glasgow City Council– the Scottish Executive have agreed to fund the
       shortfall in funding,

       UASC Reform Steering Group are due to meet at the end of the month.

       Regional workshops on going.

       DCSF need to attend future meetings.

LGA – Service specs for modelling were put to the LGA meeting with the minister




Minutes of the ADCS/ADASS Asylum Seekers Taskforce held on 10 th
November 2008

UKBA updated that the Ministry of Justice have been briefed on the impact of
the PLO implications for UASCs.

UKBA will report back.

Meeting with LGA and the reform team, re: progressing reform programme.
Agreement for joint USCA, NGA, DCSF and voluntary organisations meeting
with two associated working groups:

   1. Leaving Care Post 18
   2. Reviewing following assessments.

Recommendation

Recommendation is that there is a formal link between the task group and the
Joint USCA meeting.

Hillingdon suggested that a network/organisation map is drawn up to describe
the relationships and governance arrangements between the various strategic
and operational forums.

Age Assessment Working Group

Preliminary working group has been held which was externally facilitated.
Croydon said that the consensus was that there needed to be multi
disciplinary method based on a social work assessment used to assess age
timescales deferral.
Awaiting output reports. Ultimately LA‟s will be undertaking the assessments
and they will be open to legal challenge.

Currently Age Assessment Guidance is by definition guidance only

Birmingham reported that at a recent meeting of Midland Authorities and
reform programme made it clear that they did not want a residential
assessment.

Harrow highlighted the issues relating to child trafficking identified by ACPO.

Croydon raised that issue that each LA population profile generates different
issues, but the key theme going forward from the meeting is that the area of
age assessment is complex and could not be dealt with by institutionalised
processes, there is no „one size fits all‟.

Current evidence from medics is that nothing is emphatic and needs to be
part of a multi-agency assessment process.

Proposal put forward by Croydon that a six-month secondment be funded by
the Reform Programme/UKBA in order to could progress the work and also
review the Inter Authority Protocol.

Manchester suggested Joint Chairs meet with UKBA and put forward the
proposal.

UASC Issues

Returns

UKBA - all returns have to be voluntary or sanctioned in the family courts.
Private fostering arrangements where asylum is claimed have shown Pakistan
and Bangladesh to be key regions.



Special Circumstances: 18+

Following was noted:

       1. Settlement only covered two years.
       2. 364 day Grant deliverable days.
       3. Currently taking LA‟s up to 6 weeks to get an update on status.
       4. Grant not claimable when a young person is receiving NASS support.
       5. Letter DWP refusing to accept solicitor‟s letters for Benefit puposes.
          Young people who are awaiting a decision who have dependents are not
          grant claimable.
       6. Some of the points have been made in a letter to UKBA
Croydon said the above issues crystallise the difference between the
business and issues taken forward by UASC steering group and the Task
Force.

        The steering group could have a more detailed look at operational
         issues.

        Task Force should focus on the strategic issues.

Historically LGA have led the negotiations of the grant terms and conditions.

Actions: Harrow email questions for the LGA.
Hillingdon to liase with London Councils the relationships and meeting
structures.




Title of meeting Children’s Sub-Group, Meeting No. 1
Date             5 December 2008         Time        2:00pm-4:00pm

3.       Legal advice


3.1 The children‟s Society opened the debate on legal advice, mentioning various
issues around which discussion would be useful, including: children not having access
to legal advice, the perception among some stakeholders that legal advice was
sometimes of poor quality and the implications of the UASC reform programme in
respect of access to good quality advice.


3.2 ILPA said it needed to be understood that the legal advice being discussed would
be legal aid funded and that the Legal Services Commission (LSC) would need to
work closely with the UK Border Agency to make sure good quality legal advice
continues to be available to children. ILPA emphasised that changes in UKBA
casework procedures, even when relatively small, could sometimes have profound
consequences in respect to access to legal advice. Concerns were raised around the
UASC Reform programme in terms of legal advisors needing to be available in the
areas children were being sent to - particular parts of the country received large
numbers of children. Plans were underway to move to contracted legal advisors and
that in order to provide this service, the LSC needed to know where contracts needed
to be allocated. ILPA also mentioned recent changes to the law affecting children‟s
rights - some of which ILPA thought had implications for how children can access
legal advice.


3.3 Legal Services Commission circulated a copy of the LSC consultation papers,
‘Review of Specialist Support Service and CLS Grants’, which LSC went on to
discuss, encouraging stakeholders to provide feedback ahead of the closing date of 23
January 2009. LSC mentioned also that the LCS has had several meetings with
UKBA to make sure that the timing of UASC moves to new areas of the UK,
following on from the implementation of reform plans, is done in such a way so as to
ensure that appropriate legal services are available in these areas.


3.4 the Welsh Refugee Council asked Legal Services Commission whether UASCs
could exercise an informed choice about their choice of solicitor and suggested that
Local Authorities needed better guidance about what role they play in making sure
looked after children have good quality legal advice. Legal Services Commission
said roadshows were being run and that more discussion was necessary between LSC
and social workers to better understand their role. Legal Services Commission said
that some guidance and support was already available in the form of leaflets but that
LSC would look at this material and see if anything extra needed to be provided.


       1.3 Action: Legal Services Commission to look at possible gaps in
       information and report back at the next meeting.


       1.4 Further work with LGA/ADCS to be pursued as necessary.


3.5 UKBA Foundation said one of the issues was access to justice and improving the
quality of lawyer and how they are perceived. UK Border Agency needed to look at
how lawyers were expected to engage at critical stages of an asylum process.


3.6 COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) added that internal process
needed to be put in place in terms of how young people were worked with, for
example there were rules to deal with trafficked adults, but not trafficked children.
[Note: Chair to seek clarification at the next meeting]
3.7 COSLA made the point that when the new asylum model was brought in
stakeholders had asked for flexibility at the beginning of the process, in particular
COSLA has asked the first day for the process to be started only once the local
authority had made an assessment of need. UKBA acknowledged that there was some
arguments in favour of such an approach, but said that the NAM procedures and
timescales had been considered at the time NAM has come into effect and that UKBA
did not want to change these procedures at this stage. UKBA agreed with ‟11 Million‟
that as and when the UASC reform arrangements took affect, with children being
moved from one local authority to another, there would be implications for the NAM
timescales and these would need to be reviewed to provide more flexibility.


        1.5 Action: UKBA agreed to look into the issue of screening of children
        and the current practices in place


3.8 COSLA said that front loading the process and quality of legal advice at the
beginning of this process would be ideal, but there needed to be further exploration of
how the process could be improved.


3.9 ILPA said ILPA‟s view on what it meant to successfully work with children, was
that they had their lawyer working for the duration of the decisions making process;
that the decision was safe for the child, that it met their best interest, that the legal
representative was of a good quality and that all persons involved in the process have
done what they should. It was agreed that further discussion would take place between
ILPA and Legal Services Commission to discuss further outside the meeting.


3.10 Complications might arise when specialist authorities become involved. Are
plans underway for mapping to take place that takes into account what issues might
arise as a result.


4.      UASC reform programme


4.1 UKBA opened the discussion about the UASC Reform Programme. Some of the
reform proposals were taking longer than expected to implement - partly because of
historic funding issues between the UK Border Agency and some large local
authorities, but agreement on this matter had now been reached. Five regional
workshops had been run recently to set out how UK Border Agency intended to move
forward and gauge the level of interest among local authorities in the regions of the
UK in entering into the ”specialist” model of UASC support. Some local authorities
had expressed keen interest but said they needed help to put together firm proposals
on how many UASC they were capable of supporting, at what cost and related
matters. UKBA is giving consideration to how they can provide such assistance.
UKBA said the next step was to put together a specification document to go to local
authorities on requirements they needed to meet and what the cost would be to UK
Border Agency.


       1.6 Action: UKBA to feed back on next steps ahead of the next meeting


4.2 UKBA went on to discuss new procedures to assess age in order to ensure
children and adults were not accommodated together. The Working Group established
to look at best practice in this area had met for the final time. The Group had agreed
on some matters but there had been different views on others – for example whether
or not x-rays and reports by paediatricians should be commissioned by local
authorities or UKBA as part of the overall holistic assessment. The UK Border
Agency is looking at setting up regional assessment centres in order to ensure age is
assessed by social workers with the right skills – though taking relevant information
into account supplied by UKBA staff. Given that some of these centres would
provide residential accommodation, provided under Children‟s Act powers, it is likely
that some assessment of need would be necessary as well as assessment of age.


4.3 ILPA and ‟11 Million‟ expressed some concern about the flow of information
between social workers and UKBA. UKBA said he thought this was inevitable in
circumstances where UKBA operated a policy whereby it would normally accept the
age assessment of social workers. ILPA and the Children‟s Society said they thought
there were some cases where UKBA case owners were improperly seeking
information supplied by children to social workers that was not relevant to any
matters to do with age. UKBA said they would be happy to investigate any such
cases if supplied with the details.
          1.7 Action: Stakeholders to come back with specific examples of where
          Case Owners/Social Workers have requested disclosure of information on
          a child.


4.4 Discussion moved to issues around returns of unaccompanied children. UKBA
said that much progress on policy and procedures to be put in place for returning
children had been made when this matter had been looked at in the past. So any
current policy thinking in this area should take into account that work. This was
agreed.


4.5 UK Border Agency had visited Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to
investigate issues around returning children. Some of this work had been funded from
the Refunds and Reintegration Fund – which brings together contributions and
resources from different government departments - the Department for International
Development (DFID), UK Border Agency and the Foreign Office. UKBA said that
the trip had identified a number of issues – some generic to children‟s policy and
some specific to the particular countries. He was giving some thought to how these
matters could be shared and discussed with stakeholders.
          1.8 Action: UKBA to look at how UK Border Agency will involve
          stakeholders on returns policy and report back on progress by the next
          meeting.


5.        Any other business


5.1 UKBA announced that a working group was being set up with local authorities to
look at policy and funding issues around Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children
who turn 18 with an entitlement to leaving care support. The Children‟s Society
asked for details of who would sit on the group.


          1.9 Action: UKBA to circulate information about the working group and
          its members ahead of the next meeting


5.2 Medical Foundation questioned the practice of UK Border Agency allocating 1
January to age disputed children as their date of birth. He thought this policy was
unhelpful in some respects, for example in the allocation of school places. It was
suggested that a date mid year would be more effective. UK Border Agency were
aware if this issue and would be following it up.


       1.10 Action: UKBA to consider policy on allocating a date of birth of 1
       January to age disputed children and to report back on progress at the
       next meeting


5.3 It was noted that representatives from the top three local authorities dealing with
children were not around the table. COSCA would coordinate with the Association of
Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) on who should attend.


       1.11 Action: COSCA and ADCS to consult on who would be the best
       representatives around the table


       1.12 Action: UKBA to contact LGA to take this discussion forward




           UKBA / LGA / London Councils – Post-18 Working Group

                      Thursday 15 January 2009, 14.00 – 16.00

1.      The decision to set up the group had arisen from the regional workshops in
late 2008, when it became clear that difficulties in managing the support needs of
former (post-18) UASC and of funding the cost of that support appropriately form a
serious obstacle to the introduction of the specialist model of UASC support. Also,
there may be a more pressing problem in resolving possible funding shortfalls
covering the period 2008/9.


2.      There was an extensive discussion about the various problems. Essentially,
these came down to two broad areas:

“ARE” Cases

Local authorities have real problems in dealing with cases where the person‟s asylum
claim is finally determined as refused, but there is a delay in him/her being removed
by UKBA. Although the legislation (Schedule 3 of the Nationality, Immigration and
Asylum Act 2002) provides that most of these individuals become ineligible for
leaving care support at this point, local authorities are required to assess whether
support needs to be provided to avoid a breach of the Human Rights Act. Many local
authorities do not find it easy to make that decision – partly because the guidance
issued by UKBA is not sufficiently detailed to help them through the consideration
process, and because of general unease about the possibility of a negative decision
leading to the individuals being made destitute – which could also lead to costly legal
challenges and local community cohesion issues.

One option, therefore, might be to legislate to transfer the responsibility for providing
any support for these individuals from local authorities to UKBA. This option had
been floated in the original “Planning Better Outcomes” consultation paper issued in
2006 – which had suggested that the individuals could be made eligible to apply for
support under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 or some other
specially created provision.

It was agreed that one output of the group should be a clear recommendation about
whether this option should be pursued.

What should leaving care support for this group of young people comprise?

There are difficulties in delivering a sensible package of support to many of these
young people – especially those with uncertain immigration status. Local authorities
are obliged to implement DCSF‟s “Every Child Matters” agenda or similar policy
strategy in Scotland and Wales. However, putting in place a package of support,
consistent with these requirements, causes real difficulties if the person‟s presence in
the UK long term is not assured. Some of these problems may also cause tensions
with Key Performance Indicator targets and difficulties in assessing financial costs.

It was agreed that there is a need for central government to provide better guidance on
care planning to cover these areas.

3.     In summing up, UKBA said there were three actions to take forward:

          A paper outlining possibilities for future support and funding
           methodologies, including a “section-4 type” legislative solution, which
           UKBA will write in advance of the next meeting;
          Consideration of the guidance currently available to LAs (including the
           “Key Transitions” paper of 2005) with a view to updating it or using this
           as the basis for more formal statutory guidance (issued by and with the
           assistance of DCSF and the devolved administrations); and
          Some analysis of possible funding shortfalls for 2008-09 (UKBA should
           have better data available on this matter by the time of the next meeting).




LGA Asylum and Refugee Task Group

15 January 2009, LGA London
.     UASC Reform Programme

    Explanation as to who has been appointed as the overall UKBA lead on the
     UASC Reform Programme, and that a project manager would be appointed in
     the very near future. Stated that UKBA were committed to the Reform
     Programme and that discussions were currently ongoing with 6 local authorities
     who had demonstrated an interest in becoming specialist authorities. One of
     the main dependencies for the success of the Reform programme was the
     removal of UASCs given a negative asylum decision prior to their 18th birthday
     in order to reduce the leaving care duty on local authorities. Resolving this was
     now a priority for UKBA.
    Yorkshire and Humber RSMP stated that the main barrier to the Reform
     Programme for local authorities was the „post-18 funding issue‟. Local
     authorities need to be reassured that they will be fully funded for any leaving
     care costs as many former UASCs cannot be removed at 18 and are owed a
     duty of care by their local authority.
    London stated that a legislative change may be required to prevent situations
     whereby UASCs with a negative decision are returned to their country of origin
     but then subsequently return to the UK again and claim leaving care support.
     Action: London to provide a case study to the UASC Reform Steering
     Group ‘post-18 issues’ sub-group.
    West Midlands stated that UKBA had „accepted in principle‟ the request from
     local authorities at the Midlands UASC Reform Programme Workshop for
     funding to develop service models/specifications as specialist authorities.
     Action: UKBA to confirm in writing to West Midlands (cc East of England)
     whether funding would be made available to local authorities to develop
     service models/specifications as specialist authorities.
    The Taskgroup agreed that there had been a general lack of leadership and
     direction up to this point with regard to the UASC Reform Programme and that
     clarification on timescales, service specifications, funding, age-assessment
     issues and post-18 funding was urgently required in order to re-engage local
     authorities.



National Migration Group

Minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 4th December 2008


Newcastle felt that there was a distinct overlap in that young people seeking asylum
are influenced by language, opportunities and advancement, it was all part of the
draw following the push. UKBA acknowledged that Yorkshire, Humber & North East
had recently produced a flow chart mapping all types of migration flow and as good
as this document was what is missing was the motive behind the migration, and often
it is not what we might think. UKBA advised who had now moved on from the UASC
programme and who had the policy lead role.


UKBA informed the group there was a Childrens sub group of NASF which had been
dormant for sometime however this was being resurrected. They would be looking at
polices, impacts and also the UASC issue.

UKBA raised sharing best practice in this area. In Birmingham there had been some
concerns surrounding UASCs/private fostering arrangements. UKBA worked closely
with staff in other organisations and a flow chart was produced and circulated. This
has resulted in a steady stream of new case referrals to UKBA impacting on the
safeguarding agenda. This will now be expanded across West Midlands.

Kent raised the USAC reform programme, post 18 funding issue, and asked how
quickly the working group would be established. West Midlands advised the LGA
task group had also raised the issue UASC funding and West Midlands understood
the situation was still uncertain.

Action 4: Update to be provided to the Group including details of the working group.




LGA Asylum and Refugee Task Group
24 October 2006, LGA, London
UASC Reform
    A consultation document would be circulated and would focus on support pre-decision. The
     need for legislation was being examined
    It was confirmed that authorities would be acting ultra–vires should former UASC continue to be
     supported after the serving of a deportation notice.
    It had been recognised that issues around funding for leaving care support had to be resolved
     and the Minister was looking at the issue of co-ordinating asylum funding finance across
     government.




Notes of Decisions Taken and Actions Required
LGA Asylum and Refugee Task Group

2 April 2009, LGA London


.     General Update from UKBA

     UKBA stated that funding had been agreed to enable local authorities to develop service
      models/specifications to become ‘specialist providers’ as part of the UASC Reform Programme.
      UKBA have written to Strategic Migration Partnerships outlining an action plan and timeframe to
      deliver the UASC Reform Programme.
     London stressed the need to resolve the ‘post-18 funding issues’ before the Reform Programme
      could progress.
     UKBA stated that UKBA are waiting for the completed returns from local authorities in order to
      finalise and settle UASC funding grants for 2008/09.
     It was stated that there had been an increase in the numbers of UASCs presenting in the South
      East.
     Action: LGA to collate data from all regions to see what the national trends are for new
      UASC presentations.
RSMP Meeting
19th May
UASC Reform
   Discussion with UK BA.



To the Chief Executive                                          Tel
                                                                Fax
                                                                Email
                                                                Web www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk




28 August 2008



Dear Chief Executive

UASC Reform Programme – Becoming a Specialist Authority

I am writing to you following the recent communication by the Local Government
Association (LGA) encouraging local authorities to become fully engaged with the
UASC Reform Programme and in particular the establishment of Specialist
Authorities.

It has always been our intention as part of the Programme to seek to establish a
number of Specialist Authorities around the UK who could build expertise in the care
and support of UASC and I hope that the recent agreement between UKBA and Local
Government settling the „prior claims‟ issue has gone some way to mitigating the
main concern local authorities had about becoming involved, eg post 18 funding.
UKBA is setting up a Working Group involving LGA and Association of Directors of
Children‟s Services (ADCS) to deal further with this issue. In the meantime we want
to make progress on the establishment of Specialist Authorities.

In moving forward we would like to determine who would be interested in becoming
a Specialist Authority. We are open to suggestions surrounding establishing regional
specialist authorities and are writing to all local authorities to determine interest. We
would be happy to discuss with you how a regional specialist authority structure
might work and whether you would wish to be part of any new arrangements.

Our outline process moving forward is:

   To meet by mid-October (see table) with all interested local authorities in each
    UKBA region to discuss how a grouping might be structured and who would be
    interested in becoming a Specialist Authority, either individually or as part of a
    consortium.
   Following that meeting to invite all interested local authorities to submit proposals
    as to how services will be provided, costs, capacity and implementation process.
    To facilitate this we will issue a pack, “Information for Proposals” which will set
    out what we would need included in the proposals along with guidance on how to
    construct them.

   To explore the possibility of setting up regional “need and age” assessment
    centres that would route UASC to specialist authorities once the assessment
    process was complete.

   To finalise discussions with those authorities selected as Specialist Authorities and
    introduce new grant arrangements based on the agreement reached.

As LGA have said it is in all of our interests to improve the working relationships and
the processes moving forward so that proper care and support can be provided to
UASC, local authorities are properly funded and UKBA can fulfil its obligations
regarding immigration.

The holding of regional workshops will be an important first step in moving the
UASC Reform Programme forward so can I ask that you let me know of your interest
and whether or not you will be sending someone (preferably your Director of
Children‟s Services) to the meeting. We would be grateful for the name(s) of your
representatives by Friday 19 September so that I can book a suitably sized venue.

In the meantime if there is anything you need to discuss please do not hesitate to
contact me or my colleague

A copy of this letter is enclosed for your Director of Children‟s Services.

Yours sincerely




Director
UASC Reform Programme
                                                               Tel
                                                               Fax
                                                               Email
                                                               Web www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk




28 October 2008




Dear Colleague,

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) – Regional Workshops

On 24 September 2008 the Director of the UASC Reform Programme wrote to all
Local Authority Chief Executives and Directors of Children‟s Services in England
and Wales and invited them to nominate representatives to attend a regional workshop
that would consider the reform proposals for supporting UASC. At those workshops
we intend to set out how we want to set up specialist authorities to look after this
group of children and to consider any other issues that have arisen from the Reform
Programme.

I have attached the above document as a pdf file to the email in case you need to print
a copy.

As you have indicated that you will be attending the workshop my purpose in writing
to you is to advise you of the arrangements. It will take place at the Prima
Stanneylands Hotel, Wilmslow, SK9 4EY.

The date and time of the workshop is Thursday 13 November commencing at
13.00hrs with a sandwich lunch. We would aim to finish by around 16.30 hrs as a
number of you have some distance to travel.

I attach a draft agenda – the timings are approximate as it may be that different
sections parts of the workshop will encourage longer discussions.

The sandwich lunch will include both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options and
orange juice or tea and coffee will be available from 13:00hrs with a further break
mid-afternoon. If you have any particular dietary needs please give me a ring as soon
as possible. My contact details are as follows
We look forward to seeing you at the workshop – if there is anything else you require
do not hesitate to give me a ring.


Yours sincerely




UASC Reform Programme
Agenda

Thursday 13 November

Prima Stanneylands Hotel, Wilmslow, SK9 4EY



13:00             Arrival

                  Sandwich Lunch

13:30             Workshop - Administration                    UKBA

13:35             Introductions

13.45             UASC Reform - The Context                    UKBA

14:00             Local Government Association                 LGA Speaker

14:20             UASC Reform – The Way Ahead UKBA

14;45             Discussion                                   All

15:00             Tea/Coffee                                   All

15:15             The Specialist Authority Model               UKBA

                  Discussions

16:20             Next Steps                                   UKBA

16:30             Close                                        UKBA




LGA Asylum and Refugee Task Group
28 June, LGA, London


1.      Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Reform Programme

       It was agreed that, rather than just responding to the Government’s consultation exercise, that
        the Task Group should proactively shape the agenda and develop its own models for supporting
        unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC).

       It was agreed that a small multi-stakeholder steering group be set to focus upon these reforms
        and develop a local government-led package of support which could be presented to the Home
     Office. It was suggested that the Group contain the LGA, ALG, WLGA, COSLA, the ADSS and
     other representative groups. It would report to the Task Group. The Task Group Members could
     make any specific nominations

    A briefing note would be developed that could be circulated regionally in order for comments and
     recommendations to be fed into the Steering Group. This would run in parallel with the
     Government’s regional consultations.

    It was noted that one of the committees of the Committee of the Regions, an EU advisory body,
     is looking at the situation of unaccompanied minors in the migration process. The LGIB will keep
     member informed of any developments, including a possible item to discuss any
     recommendations at the January meeting.




                        Joint Councils‟ meeting
                             7th April

5 UASC              The programme is on its fourth manager and no progress
Reform              has been made. Authorities who are prepared to work up a
Programme           bid are being offered £10000
                    to do so. 6 authorities have put in a bid.
                    Problems remain with funding though and Kent suggested
                    the group could work on a proposition of making a bid for
                    financing, not per child, but on a global basis . Suggested
                    this is worked into a paper with the proposed legislative
                    changes to put to UKBA.
                    Previous work done on costs formula may be useful




          REPORT TO EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 27.10.08

Migrant Children Sub Group
10 The Migrant Children Sub Group met on 21st September 2008. UKBA
    continues efforts to reform national arrangements for supporting
    unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC). However progress has
    been slower than anticipated. Local authorities and other agencies
    remain concerned re the practical implications of tensions between
    childcare and immigration legislation, policy and need to be sure that the
    level of funding to be made available by UKBA in future, is sufficient to
    meet support costs, particularly in respect of post 18‟s. The sub group
    will consider the implications of the UASC Reform Programme for
    agencies in the North West should further developments occur.
3. Has your authority, either individually or as part of a ‘Consortia’ or
'Association' of authorities or SMP, had any internal meetings to discuss
any matter relating to your becoming ‘specialist authorities’ or setting
up of a regional 'assessment centre' for unaccompanied asylum seeking
children under the UASC reform programme?

Yes

4. Have your authorities’ staff, or consultants working for your authority,
produced any discussion papers, proposals or options for bodies within
the authority to consider in relation to the authority becoming ‘specialist
authorities’ or setting up of a regional 'assessment centre' for UASC
under the reform programme?

Yes, Paper was presented at AGMA. Attached at 5b.

5. If the answer to either Question 3 or Question 4 is ‘yes’, please
provide:
    a) copies of the minutes of any meetings at which this was a
        substantive agenda item and;


                            LEAD OFFICERS MEETING

                         Held on 13th June 2008 at 9.30am

1. UASC Update.

   1.1     Manchester reported the North West Trafficking Seminar was well
           attended and left their findings with the Government Office North West.

   1.2     Manchester also reported that no further progress has been made to
           address local authority concerns re Leaving Care funding and costs for
           UASC.




                          LEAD OFFICERS MEETING

                           Held on 11th July 2008 at 10am

8) UASC Update
   9.1 There is continued National lobbying for monies to cover the overspend on
   UASC that authorities with high numbers have. If this agreed then it will be on the
   proviso that the UASC Reform Programme Progresses

   9.2 Manchester completing a report to Manchester’s CSSMT.
   9.3 NW Authorities have received request under FOIA, on UASC and no recourse
   to public funds expenditure. Rochdale, Blackburn and Bolton have released their
   figures.

   9.4 Age assessment-challenges are getting more complicated. Manchester to arrange
   regional training. NWC(E) handling all admin.



                        LEAD OFFICERS MEETING

                       Held on 8th August 2008 at 930am
1. UASC Project Update
   4.1 Manchester distributed UASC Reform report – this outlined the background, and
   up dates on the UKBA UASC Reform Programme, along with the key issues for
   Lead Officers.

   4.2 There were concerns around how we will stay informed of this project once
   Manchester lead leaves. Bolton and Manchester will be meeting with Director today
   to discuss. It may be that we need to set up a separate group specifically for UASC
   issues.

   4.3 Manchester spoke about their vision for the outcome of this project in terms of
   having an established regional assessment centre and linking in with other
   regions/agencies.

   4.4 Group looked through the recommendations outlined in the report and
   discussed how each point can be progressed. It was agreed that Manchester would
   set up a specialist sub-group, which would then have a link in to national strategies
   via Manchester.



                      LEAD OFFICERS MEETING

                  Held on 12th September 2008 at 930am

1) UKBA Consultation: Support for Failed Asylum Seekers
  7.1 UKBA Consultation on Asylum Support paper distributed. Manchester
   gave a brief update on UKBAs intention to consult with stakeholders on
   proposal to changes in support.

  7.2 UKBA have numerous concerns about the current asylum support
   system. These include complexity, costs and failed claimants not leaving
   the UK.

  7.3 UKBA will be holding a series of workshops in September to discuss the
   proposal. Points raised in the workshops will be incorporated into a
   consultation paper that will be published in October 2008. Responses to
    this consultation paper must be received by December, with final
    provisions being included in the Immigration and Citizenship Bill (January
    2009).

    7.4 Manchester recommended that Lead Officers comment upon UKBAs
     proposals when these are made available in October. Manchester will
     coordinate all comments from Lead Officers and the RSMP. These would
     then be represented to the Home Office at a political level during the
     formal consultation period.

    7.5 Manchester voiced concerns about this consultation – felt that they are
     trying to achieve an incentive for people to return themselves. Also felt it
     would have implications on the Consortium. Group discussed further.



                           LEAD OFFICERS MEETING

                      Held on 10th October 2008 at 930am

1. UASC Reform Update
   6.1 Manchester informed the group that the meeting originally organised to take
   place on 6th October was cancelled and rearranged for November. Manchester
   continued to meet with UKBA. UKBA are requesting that costs be submitted to
   them by January 2009, with a 3-5 year agreement being in place by April 2009.
   They also agreed that comprehensive safety systems for risk management need
   to be in place for the end of the agreement, but did not go into further detail on
   this.

    6.2 UKBA are expecting two prices: one for under 16 and one for 16/17 year
    olds. Hoping to place 900 UASC under this agreement across the NW Region.

    6.3 Also wanting 4-5 Assessment Centres, this would have a service specification.

    6.4 LAs are to start thinking about whether they would be interested in entering
    into an agreement with or without certain caveats.


                        LEAD OFFICERS MEETING

                          Held on 14th November 2008
                                   At 930am
1   UASC Reform
    8.1 Bury provided an update on the UASC Reform situation. There are 5-6,000
    UASC currently in the system, 1700 of which are under 16 years old.

    8.2 UKBA are looking at having a 3 year contract, but are happy to have single or
    joint models.
   8.3 Next steps are to draw up an outline on how we can deliver the service, along
   with numbers that we could cater for and costings. Blackburn with Darwin
   mentioned what would be acceptable as a first step in terms of the money available
   for someone to put together a bid on our behalf. The deadline for bids to be
   received in March 2009.

   8.4 It was agreed that each LA should speak to Chief Officers/Executive Board to
   check if they wish to engage on this. Once we receive the go ahead in principle, then
   we can begin to look at numbers and costings.

   8.5 Manchester suggested they draft a note from Director to go to AGMA, with a
   recommendation that they confirm if they want to party to these discussions.

   8.6 Blackburn with Darwin stated that there are gaps in staffing at the moment, since
   two Manchester leads have moved to new posts, and remaining Manchester lead only
   being part-time – need to look at filling these gaps.

   8.7 It was agreed that Bury will set up a small group to help Manchester take things
   forward.



                        LEAD OFFICERS MEETING

                          Held on 12th December 2008
   5.1 UASC Reform Programme report has been agreed by the Executive Committee
   to go to AGMA. Manchester to forward the report to Lead Officers to brief their
   Chief Executives and discuss with Children Services.



                        LEAD OFFICERS MEETING

                            Held on 9th January 2009
1. UASC
   12.1 Manchester informed the group that the report has now been agreed by Director
   and Chief Executive.

   12.2        Have received a holding email from UKBA as they have realised that
   additional money will need to be found to fund this project. Manchester will be
   meeting with the Immigration Minister next week where this is on the agenda for
   discussion.


                           LEAD OFFICERS MEETING

                             Held on 13th February 2009
    3.1 UASC: Group discussed their concerns around this project now. Manchester
    attended that National Children’s Directors forum where this topic was discussed – it
    seems that everyone is in the same position. It was also agreed that back payments
    would need to be resolved first, which may slow things down even further.




                           LEAD OFFICERS MEETING
                           TH
                         17 APRIL, 2009. 0930 – 1300 hrs


UASC Update

14.1    Manchester attended Joint Councils meeting that highlighted some of
        the difficulties. AGMA still keen to talk to UKBA. Tameside is attending
        the RSMP national meeting on May 19. Manchester to discuss there.



                           LEAD OFFICERS MEETING
                              Held on 8th May 2009

1       Update from ADCS/ADASS (inc UASC)
    6.1 Manchester attended the ADCS meeting, where the main item on the agenda was
    the UASC Reform Programme. There was a discussion at that meeting around the
    template and the need for this to be distributed for people to amend if necessary.

    6.2 There is an ongoing court case involving Croydon and Kent, the decision of
    which will be due next week.

    6.3 NRUC are now interesting in working for the DSCF to have some input into the
    new Contact Point Database.

    6.4 No Recourse to Public Funds – there will be a conference in Cardiff to discuss
    A2 and A8 nationals.

    6.5 Currently looking at taking forward the issue of IOM taking too long to remove
    people.

    6.6 Manchester asked whether LAs felt a separate network was needed for NRPF,
    however it was agreed that this was adequately resourced under RSMP. Manchester
    to put together a suggested email network.



                       North West Consortium (East)
Executive Board


Minutes of Meeting Held at Manchester Town Hall on
09.09.08
  Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Reform Programme Update

9.1   Manchester explained that the LGA is trying to broker a deal between
      the Home Office and Local Authorities who feel they are owed
      outstanding grant funding to meet historical costs. The Home Office is
      intending to meet in October with Local Authorities who have
      expressed an interest in the UASC Reform Programme. If all goes well
      meetings will be followed by a bidding process.

9.2   The UKBA is also looking to establish regional age assessment
      centres. Elected members were keen that AGMA keeps its options
      open and to maintain discussions with the Home Office, without any
      formal commitment to proceed to contract. It was also agreed that
      attention must be paid to the legal, as well as financial risks, of
      accepting UASC from other areas of the country.



                   North West Consortium (East)
Executive Board


Minutes of Meeting Held at Manchester Town Hall on
09.12.08
UASC Reform Programme Update
10.1 Manchester highlighted the main points of the report circulated in
     advance of the meeting. The current system of UASC support operates
     on an „ad hoc‟ basis, with the duty to support falling to the Local
     Authority at which the UASC first present. UKBA intends to reform the
     system by creating specialist authorities which accept a predetermined
     number of UASC. UKBA want to increase the number of UASC in the
     North West from approximately 500 to 900. If this does not go ahead,
     UKBA may distribute the money paid via the Grant Agreement for
     UASC across the country via the Revenue Support Grant. Issues to
     consider were included in the report. Manchester asked that the
     Executive Board support discussions internally and with UKBA in a „no
     prejudice‟ manner.
10.2   Manchester said we need to consider what is the worst case scenario if
       we do not become a specialist authority. Bury said UKBA may go to the
       private sector and procure a cheaper, less efficient service, with the
       risk of creating ghettoes. Bolton added that if we do not engage on a
       non-prejudicial basis, this may put future dispersal contract options at
       risk.

10.3   The Executive Board noted the contents of the report, and agreed that
       a report should be submitted to AGMA recommending that:

          AGMA support the proposal that Local Authorities progress
           discussions internally to accommodate and support UASC under
           one contract across the region.
          AGMA support discussions continuing with UKBA to progress the
           possibility of being a specialist authority in a „no prejudice‟ manner.
          AGMA support discussions continuing with UKBA to progress the
           possibility of having an assessment centre in the AGMA region in a
           „no prejudice‟ manner.
          AGMA confirm that they are willing for financial costing templates to
           be provided to UKBA in a „no prejudice‟ manner.
          AGMA confirm to Manchester that they would be willing to support
           discussions with the LGA and UKBA to make representation that
           there are to be no changes to the Grant Agreement if specialist
           authorities do not materialise.



                     North West Consortium (East)
Executive Board


Minutes of Meeting Held at Manchester Town Hall on
10.03.09
UASC Reform Programme
5.1  Manchester highlighted the main points of the report which had been
     circulated in advance of the meeting. These included an update on the
     decision from AGMA on 27th February 2009 and an update from the
     ADCS / ADASS Asylum Task Force.

5.2    The Executive Board noted the content of the report.

5.3    The Executive Board agreed for Officers to continue contact with the
       ADCS / ADASS Asylum Task Force and, upon the basis of a national
       consensus, decide whether or not to continue negotiations until after
       leaving care costs are agreed across the country.
5.4      The Executive Board agreed for Lead Officers to speak to UKBA to
         encourage negotiations to commence.




      b) copies of any discussion papers, costings/budgets, proposals or
         options relating to the same matter.


        REPORT FOR GREATER MANCHESTER DIRECTORS
             CHILDREN’S SERVICES- AUGUST 2008

      HOME OFFICE PROPOSED REFORM OF SERVICES AND
       SUPPORT FOR UNACCOMPANIED ASYLUM SEEKING
                       CHILDREN




ACRONYMS

ADCS – Association Directors Children’s Services
Adass – Association Directors Adult Social Services
AGMA – Association Greater Manchester Authorities

ASU – Asylum Screening Centre (UKBA)

LAs – Local Authorities

LGA – Local Government Association

NWC(E) – North West Consortium(East)

UASC – Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children
UKBA – UK Borders Agency (Home Office)


Executive Summary
UKBA propose changing the way UASC are supported. They wish to contract
with a number of LAs or regions who will become „specialist‟ and all UASC will
be transferred to them. This would mean that UASC numbers would be
„shared‟ across the UK .

This „reform‟ is welcomed but there are issues that need resolving if LAs are
to agree to increase the numbers of UASC they support.

Nationally there has been a lot of ongoing work to resolve the issues, some of
this has been led by Manchester lead in their role within ADCS, in partnership
with the LGA. Other work by a group of councils, who support high numbers
of UASC, has become politically high profile.

There has been a delay on progress of the reform programme as the LGA led
negotiations with DCFS and UKBA to recover the overspend on UASC for
06/07 and 07/08. There has been a resolution of this with an amount of
money being made available for LAs to bid for. A letter has been sent from
LGA to all Chief Executives which explains this. This funding has been
negotiated on the agreement that the UASC reform programme will progress.

Nationally the ADCS/Adass Taskforce will now reform the UASC Steering
group to work on the caveats that need resolving for LAs to agree to become
Specialist Authorities. Regionally the Asylum Lead Officers have been
updated.

1. Introduction

The purpose of this briefing is to continue to update GMDCS on the UK
Borders Agency (UKBA) proposal for „specialist authorities‟ for the support of
Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) and to set out the issues
that they will need to consider.


2. Background
2.1 The UKBA published their consultation document, “Planning better
outcomes and support for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children” in
February 2007.

2.2 GMDCS supported the joint response by the UASC Steering Group which
represented, ADCS/Adass Asylum Taskforce, Association Directors Social
Services Cymru, Consortium of Scottish Local Authorities, Local Government
Association, National Consortia Consultative Group and the Welsh Local
Government Authority. Although the ADCS only covers England, Wales and
Scotland attend the taskforce meetings and have taken their steer from the
Association.

2.3 UKBA published their response,” Better Outcomes: the Way Forward” in
January 2008.

2.4 GMDCS agreed with the ADCS/Adass Asylum Taskforce that the reform
of services for UASC would have benefits to local authorities. Instead of the
„ad-hoc‟ arrival of UASC to any authority. The idea is that there would be a
planned transfer of UASC to specialist authorities or regions who would
support an agreed number of UASC. The ADCS also supports the idea of
regional assessment centres where those UASC who need more than a brief
initial assessment before transfer can have a longer period of assessment. It
is envisaged that these centres would become centres of expertise that can
be used across all LAs including those who are not „specialist authorities or
regions‟. They would build and retain expertise around issues - assessments
including age assessment, trafficking and training.

2.5 The UKBA reform team have asked LAs, outside of London and the South
East, to express an „in principle‟ agreement to becoming a specialist
authority/region. In order to ensure that DCSs had enough information to
make an informed decision on this, Manchester lead in their role for the
ADCS, sent letters to DCSs across England to inform them of the issues that
they needed to consider, and these were discussed at the GMDCS meeting in
March 2008 :-
         Funding must be sufficient for a Section 20 CA1989 service before
            age eighteen and for statutory responsibilities under „leaving care‟
            at age eighteen.
         Local authorities must be protected from judicial challenge by a
            resolution of the tension between childcare and immigration
            legislation. UKBA state that under immigration legislation, if former
            UASC are failed asylum seekers and all appeals exhausted, then
            they should have „no recourse‟ to public funds. This tension needs
            to be resolved in order that LAs are not subject to challenge over
            their statutory duties under „leaving care‟ or that there are shortfalls
            in funding.
         Care plans and pathway plans must consider the possibility that
            the child‟s future will be in their country of origin, but UKBA must
            find a way to return young people in a humane and compassionate
            way. DCSs cannot accept former looked after children having no
            recourse to public funds leading them to destitution and making
            them vulnerable to exploitation. Therefore more work is needed in
            their Country of Origin.
         Further and higher education must be meaningful so they can take
            something positive into adulthood if it is not going to be in the UK.
            LAs must not be challenged about comparisons with indigenous
            and asylum seeking children and young adults.
         UKBA has indicated that separate negotiations will take place with
            legal services, health and voluntary organisations. ADCS advise
            that these negotiations must take place alongside those with
            Children‟s Services as capacity must be developed in LAs that,
            may in future, accept a higher number of UASC.


3. National Developments

3.1 There is ongoing work by a group of LAs who already support high
numbers of UASC – known as the „Joint Councils‟. The work has mainly been
around lobbying for payment on the shortfall of funding for former UASC (over
age eighteen yrs) between 06/07 and 07/08.

3.2 The LGA hosted a meeting on the 23 rd May with UKBA, DCSF, LAs
finance officers and ADCS. This meeting considered a way forward on the
unresolved issue of funding from DCSF and Home Office. There was a further
meeting on the 6th and 12th June and discussions have continued on a
National and Ministerial level resulting in the offer that has gone to Chief
Executives.

3.3 ADCS agreed to suspend discussions with UKBA until the question of
funding for overspending had been resolved – the Joint Councils felt any
discussions before this would undermine their negotiations.

3.4 UKBA have always stated that any settlement of extra funding must be
linked to the progress on the UASC reform programme. If the overspend is
paid by DCSF and UKBA and the other caveats are open to
discussion/resolution then it does mean that AGMA will be under pressure to
make a decision on whether to become a specialist authority/region.


4. Key Issues for Directors Children’s Services

4.1 If the caveats in 2.5 are resolved, then GMDCS will need to decide about
their willingness to look at the possibility of joint agreements to become a
specialist region.

4.2 Work has continued to keep „options open‟ - for a regional contract or for
a Manchester only contract. Speculative discussions to date are that it is likely
the highest capacity we would offer to support, within AGMA, is around 250.

4.3 Future work will need to focus on the development of a model that could
accept the „dispersal‟ of UASC to AGMA but allow the LAs involved to support
the children under section 20 CA 1989 within their local variances. (Similar to
the Safe Case Transfer agreement – three LAs agreed standards etc but all
varied in how these were achieved)

4.4 It is likely that if we do not become a specialist region, UASC will still be
placed within Manchester and LAs close to the city. Private providers are
already planning to support UASC on behalf of other LAs - responsibility for
the statutory childcare will remain with the responsible authority but all other
support given by private provider.

4.5 If it is decided that AGMA becomes a specialist region then the aim would
be to seek agreements that other LAs do not place within the region. (Some
NW authorities are already placing 16 and 17year old UASC in shared
housing within Greater Manchester which has implications on health,
education, housing etc)
4.6 GMDCS will understand the wider issues and pressures within Children‟s
Services and across other departments within their authorities. E.g. Pressure
on placements for „looked after children‟ both for accommodation and for
school places, and pressure for housing.

4.7 Other issues that need to be considered are the different working
arrangements that the reform programme will bring about i.e. different than
„how it is now‟

NUMBERS
At the present time Children‟s Services have a statutory responsibility to
support any UASC who present in their authority. This means there is no
ability to predict or plan as numbers fluctuate. If there is an agreement to
voluntarily accept higher numbers of UASC then GMDCS must ensure :
         that LA performance ratings are not penalised because of an
           increase in the „looked after‟ children numbers
         that politically it is not seen as taking resources from indigenous
           children
         that the work of the NWC(E) around agreements with UKBA on
           „cluster limits‟ includes UASC.

ASSESSMENT
      UASC arrive without any assessment of need and they are
       referred to Children‟s Services who assess under s20 CA 1989.
       (the exception is those asylum seekers dispersed as adults to
       AGMA but who dispute their age and maybe assessed as
       children) Therefore UASC arrive and become the responsibility of
       Children‟s Services.
      The ADCS has advocated for „regional assessment centres‟, as
       part of the UASC reform. The reason is that ADCS feel the most
       important part of the transfer of UASC from one LA to another is
       around the assessment in order that the placement is correct.
      Most LAs would prefer to make their own assessment but some
       form of initial assessment will have to be done before the decision
       is made on where to transfer the UASC i.e. if Glasgow only had
       available placements in shared housing, a twelve year old could
       not be transferred to them as he/she would need a placement with
       a foster carer. OR an age dispute that needs more time, OR a child
       with a disability that needs adapted accommodation.
      An assessment centre that could place across a number of LAs
       would mean that some UASC are able to have a longer period of
       time before they transfer. Using the Safe Case Transfer model
       AGMA would want clear agreements to ensure standards and
       consistency.
      An assessment centre as a regional resource would mean we
       would be undertaking our own assessments and would develop
       expertise - age assessments, specialist support to foster carers for
       trafficked children, training, etc. Ideally this would be a regional
       resource, including those LAS who do not take UASC. With the
       region giving commitments i.e. seconded experienced staff for a
           number of hours per week , to develop expertise and act as
           resource across the region. It maybe that LAs not involved in
           taking UASC would be a part of this assessment centre. i.e. to
           access expertise for age assessments on age disputed adults who
           are dispersed to the region, training, advice on safeguarding
           victims of trafficking. (recent informal partnership with two LAs
           whereby experienced social worker undertook joint work with less
           experienced LA to support as they have judicial review on age
           assessment)
          If AGMA does not have an assessment centre then the contracts
           and agreements must ensure that any assessments before
           transfer are at a standard we can work with (the Safe Case
           Transfer project had „tight‟ agreements with Kent around
           information sharing and assessments before transfer – these are
           available to use within the model)


PARTNERSHIPS
     At the present time the discussions around a regional model are
       only within AGMA and Blackburn with Darwen. This is partly
       because of the existing and historical contracts, the lead officers
       group and the ability to work across Children‟s services e.g. Your
       own Greater Manchester Directors Children‟s Services Group, Pan
       Greater Manchester Safeguarding procedures.
     Liverpool has the Asylum Screening Unit and therefore there will
       be a need to enter into a NW regional agreement or at least to
       have some agreements between AGMA and the wider region.

4.9 GMDCS needs to consider what the implications will be if we do not
   become a specialist authority/region.




5. Finance

5.1 UKBA is asking for capacity and costings. They will offer a price per child
    on a three year contract. The capacity they have asked the North West is
    600 UASC. (North West being the bigger region rather than the sub region
    of AGMA) This 3 year contract will need to have clear agreements so that,
    if it is not extended, we have sufficient resources to give statutory support
    before and after age eighteen until not required. – It would be detrimental
    to the children to move them when we have supported for three years
    because the contract ends.
(Safe Case Transfer had an agreement that kept the same funding until age
eighteen - at that time the funding for over eighteens was from DCSF, in the
future it is likely that all funding for UASC before and after eighteen years will
come from UKBA )

5.2 The numbers of UASC that AGMA may be able to support needs to be
considered. The financial model needs to consider not only how many
UASC we have capacity to support but also the number of „over eighteen
years‟ former UASC who are also „former relevant children‟ we will support.

5.3 An assessment centre would need to be costed separately to the
   requested price per child – the contract price starting when the UASC
   leaves the assessment centre and is placed within our agreed portfolio of
   accommodation. If AGMA did offer this, would it offer an out of hours
   facility? which may be of value to UKBA and therefore the cost could
   reflect this.

5.4 If the costings are for all external placements it will make the model very
   expensive which may mean the costings are too high for UKBA to agree
   to. Consideration needs to be given as to whether internal placements can
   also be used in the portfolio. However, Children‟s Services are already
   short of foster carers.



6. Impact on Internal and External Partners
6.1 UKBA do not want these included in the costings they have requested.

6.2 ADCS have strongly advocated that discussions with health, education,
voluntary organisations community groups and legal services must be parallel
to those within Children‟s Social work Services. Regional updates have been
made through the Regional Strategic Migration Partnership, but there will
need to be discussion and planning with partners if higher numbers of UASC
are to be supported.

ISSUES
      Health – GPs, dentists, CAHMS, need to build capacity
      Many UASC arrive after suffering trauma and loss they need
       specialist emotional support and services e.g. rape counselling
      There must be capacity and quality of legal advisors as all UASC
       must have legal representation, (- as the ratification of the EU
       convention on trafficking is introduced, children will need good legal
       advice that advises them whether claiming asylum is the right thing
       – as UKBA make decisions on asylum applications at age 171/2 yrs
       social workers and other support staff need to have confidence in
       legal advice and can approach returns with the confidence of
       correct decisions)
      Placements, including housing at age eighteen, and for trafficking
       victims,
       Education – capacity and access to education (difficulty with access
          if UASC arrives at year 11, planning further or higher education if
          the UASC has limited leave to remain)

11.Conclusion

The UKBA is very keen to progress the reform programme and this is
receiving high level ministerial support. As the resolution of the overspend is
now moving, then discussions will begin in earnest on the other caveats and
GMDCS will have to make decisions on involvement.

12. Recommendations

It is difficult to make recommendations as any decisions need to be made
within the overall context of regional Children‟s Services. The Caveats in 2.5
need satisfactory resolution, but as work to do this is progressing GMDCS
need to decide about their possible involvement. Any decisions will have to
receive political support, and this is an emotive issue.

         Expertise from AGMA Children‟s Services and Asylum Lead
          Officers needs to be combined.
         Senior management support that is guided by a regional
          representation of child care and asylum experts.
         Regional group to be established. DCSs to nominate a
          representative. Possibility of short term project manager if funding
          could be found.
         Keep our options open by developing a model, both for the service
          delivery and the financial costings.
         Continue to work across AGMA to achieve an agreed model for a
          regional bid
         Enter into discussions with colleagues in Liverpool Children‟s and
          Asylum teams to see if the same standards we are considering in
          AGMA can be negotiated. If agreements cannot be reached it
          would be to AGMA‟s advantage to have some agreements with the
          rest of the NW.
         Thoughts are given to the assessment prior to arrival, so there is
          some „control‟ on the suitability of placements.
         Consideration is given to a NW regional assessment centre as part
          of a proposal.
         Consideration must be made around the national strategies (which
          are ever moving) that will affect the region if we do or do not go
          forward with this.
         Work would be „in principle‟ and the region may be unable to
          become „specialist‟ if the outstanding issues are not answered
          satisfactorily.
                          AGMA Executive Report

                             27th February 2009


Subject:            Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children Reform
                    Programme
Date:               27th February 2009


1. Introduction
   1.1. The purpose of this report is to notify AGMA of Home Office efforts to
        reform the support provided by local authorities to Unaccompanied
        Asylum Seeker Children (UASC), associated issues and opportunities.

2. Background

At present UASC become the responsibility of the local authority in the area
where they first present. The local authority has a statutory duty (under the
Children‟s Act 1989) to assess each child‟s needs and to act accordingly to
ensure their safety and well-being. Most UASC under 16 years of age are
supported as Looked After Children, many UASC aged 16-17 years can
safely be placed in shared housing with some support.

The Home Office allocates grant funding to meet the costs incurred by local
authorities as a result of providing support to individual UASC. Local
authorities that support larger numbers of UASC have expressed concern that
grant funding has been inadequate to meet their costs. Local authorities are
also concerned that Government funding reduces when UASC reach 18 years
of age. However the local authority retains a statutory duty to many individuals
due to Leaving Care responsibilities. This coupled with the Home Office‟s
inability to remove many former UASC from the U.K. when they fail in their
claim for asylum heightens operational, financial and legal risk for the local
authorities concerned.

Whilst the current system ensures that local authorities discharge their
responsibilities in respect of UASC that present in their area, the ad hoc
nature of the arrangements makes it difficult for councils to predict demand
and to plan ahead in terms of resource allocation. The distribution of UASC
and associated risk is inequitable. The prevalence of UASC in the South East
results in higher care costs and a reliance upon outside placements (where
the responsible authority places children elsewhere in the country due to
limited local fostering and other capacity).

The Home Office UK Border Agency (UKBA) intends to reform the current
processes. The Agency aspires to address the issues summarised above,
and to improve efficiency and standards of care for this vulnerable group of
children. Subject to sufficient interest amongst local authorities across the
country the Agency proposes to develop a network of assessment centres
and to establish specialist authorities that would enter into a contract to accept
a predetermined number of UASC from around the country.

The UKBA has raised this matter with local authorities intermittently during the
course of the last three years. The Local Government and relevant
professional associations concluded that whilst local authorities are supportive
of the Agency‟s aspirations to improve standards of care and reduce support
costs by means of more efficient national systems; all legal, financial and
operational risk must be assessed as acceptable for any authority to consider
receiving UASC transferred from other areas.


3. Current Position
   3.1. The UKBA has established a project team to advance this work. The
        UASC Reform team as it is known has approached local authorities
        across the country to discuss options and to assess interest. The
        project team has suggested that UKBA would ideally want to increase
        the number of UASC supported in the North West region from the
        current level (approximately 500) to 900.

   3.2. UKBA have stated that there is a possibility of funding from the Home
        Office to increase capacity in order to develop a proposal.

   3.3. UKBA have a current timeline of wanting proposals to be submitted by
        March 2009. UKBA then wish to negotiate upon these proposals.

   3.4. UKBA are hoping for a 5 year agreement, with LAs building capacity
        and increasing numbers of UASCs from the current numbers to the
        agreed level over a period of 3 years. They have accepted that clear
        agreements will need to be in place to ensure that the children
        accommodated will be supported / a new contract will be signed at the
        end of the agreement to ensure the burden does not fall to the LA.

   3.5. UKBA would be interested in AGMA developing a proposal for both
        becoming a specialist Authority and providing an assessment centre in
        the region.

   3.6. UKBA have stated that proposals could include having a lead
        authority, with other LAs supporting the authority, rather than LAs
        submitting proposals separately.
  3.7. The proposal would include separate prices for over 16 and under 16
       on a price per service user per night, and for the assessment centre.

  3.8. If proposals are not submitted, and the reform programme does not
       progress, then UKBA have stated that the monies that are currently
       paid via the Grant Agreement for UASCs will be distributed across the
       country via the Revenue Support Grant (RSG). UKBA have not stated
       whether the monies would be split evenly across LAs, or if the monies
       would be allocated to the RSG in accordance with the number of
       UASC supported by the LA.


4. Issues to consider
  4.1. There are many childcare issues that need resolving prior to the LAs
       agreeing to sign an agreement. These include:
      Funding must be sufficient for a Section 20 CA1989 service before
         age eighteen and for statutory responsibilities under „leaving care‟
         at age eighteen. The National UASC Reform Steering Group have
         been asked by UKBA Reform Team to work with them to resolve
         this at a national level.
      LAs must be protected from judicial challenge by a resolution of the
         tension between childcare and immigration legislation. UKBA state
         that under immigration legislation, if former UASC are failed asylum
         seekers and all appeals exhausted, then they should have „no
         recourse‟ to public funds. This tension needs to be resolved in order
         that LAs are not subject to challenge over their statutory duties
         under „leaving care‟ or that there are shortfalls in funding.
      Care plans and pathway plans must consider the possibility that the
         child‟s future will be in their country of origin, but UKBA must find a
         way to return young people in a humane and compassionate way.
         DCSs cannot accept former looked after children having no
         recourse to public funds leading them to destitution and making
         them vulnerable to exploitation. Therefore more work is needed in
         their Country of Origin.
      Further and higher education must be meaningful so they can take
         something positive into adulthood if it is not going to be in the UK.
         LAs must not be challenged about comparisons with indigenous
         and asylum seeking children and young adults.
      UKBA has indicated that separate negotiations will take place with
         legal services, health and voluntary organisations. ADCS advise
         that these negotiations must take place alongside those with
         Children‟s Services as capacity must be developed in LAs that, may
         in future, accept a higher number of UASC.

  4.2. If the above issues are not resolved, then the recommendation in the
       future would be that AGMA will not sign a contract.
  4.3. Contractual issues include:
      Ensuring risk management for the end of the agreement is in place
         to guarantee that LAs do not have increased numbers of UASC in
         their region with no form of funding.
      Ensuring the proposal is negotiated to cover all eventualities,
         including the possibility of over 16s needing a higher level of
         support.
      Ensuring UKBA provide the money for the capacity to be built in
         order to develop a proposal.

  4.4. The threat of having the Grant Agreement monies paid via the RSG
       also needs to be taken into account. If the money is split evenly across
       all LAs in the country, this could severely be to the detriment of LAs
       housing larger numbers of UASC.

5. Recommendations

  5.1. AGMA supports the proposal that LAs progress discussions internally
       to accommodate and support UASCs under one contract across the
       AGMA region.

  5.2. AGMA supports discussions continuing with UKBA to progress the
       possibility of being a specialist authority in a „no prejudice‟ manner.

  5.3. AGMA supports discussions continuing with UKBA to progress the
       possibility of having an assessment centre in the AGMA region in a „no
       prejudice‟ manner.

  5.4. AGMA confirm that they are willing for financial costing templates to be
       provided to UKBA in a „no prejudice‟ manner.

  5.5. AGMA confirm to Manchester that they would be willing to support
       discussions with the LGA and UKBA to make representation that there
       are to be no changes to the Grant Agreement if specialist authorities
       do not materialise.




                              AGMA Executive

                          Date 27th February 2009

     Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children Reform Programme
Executive Summary
The purpose of this report is to:
       Notify AGMA of Home Office efforts to reform the support provided by
        local authorities to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children (UASC),
        associated issues and opportunities.


Sub Regional Context and Value Added

At present UASCs are the responsibility of the Local Authority where they
present. The Authority is paid via a Grant Agreement for the UASC. There are
issues around predicting demand and resource allocation, resulting in higher
costs and outside placements.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) want to reform current arrangements to
ensure higher standards of care and improve efficiency. As Local Authorities
have a statutory duty under the Childrens Act 1989, UKBA need the support
of the Local Authorities to develop a network of assessment centres and to
establish specialist authorities.

UKBA would like the AGMA authorities to put in a proposal for a contract to
accept a predetermined number of UASC. This contract would be for a five
year period, with a three year lead in time to increase capacity.

UKBA want to increase the number of UASC in the North West region from
approximately 500 to 900. All Local Authorities would not have to join the
contract, but would be on a voluntary basis.

UKBA have stated that, if proposals are not submitted, and the reform
programme does not progress, then the monies that are currently paid via the
Grant Agreement for UASCs will be distributed across the country via the
Revenue Support Grant (RSG). UKBA have not stated whether the monies
would be split evenly across LAs, or if the monies would be allocated to the
RSG in accordance with the number of UASC supported by the LA.

There are several issues that need to be overcome before agreeing to a
contract – including:
            Sufficient funding for under 18 year olds
            Sufficient funding for leaving care costs
            Protection from judicial challenge by a resolution of the tension
               between childcare and immigration legislation
            UKBA resolving issues in returning children to country of origin
            Meaningful further and higher education whether the child stays
               in England or returns to country of origin
            Sufficient funding for legal, health, education and voluntary
               organisations to cope with higher numbers of UASCs.
              Ensuring risk management is in place for the end of the contract
               to guarantee that Local Authorities do not have higher numbers
               of UASCs with no or reduced funding
              Ensuring the proposal covers all eventualities including possible
               higher support needs.
              Ensuring UKBA provide the money to develop the proposal.
              Ensuring UKBA do not pay for services in the future via the
               revenue support grant split evenly across all Local Authorities,
               as this would be to the detriment of those Local Authorities with
               higher numbers of UASCs.

It is important that Local Authorities are supportive of the Agency‟s aspirations
to improve standards of care and reduce support costs by means of more
efficient national systems; but all legal, financial and operational risk must be
assessed as acceptable for any authority to consider receiving UASC
transferred from other areas


Recommendations


       AGMA supports the proposal that LAs progress discussions internally
        to accommodate and support UASCs under one contract across the
        AGMA region.

       AGMA supports discussions continuing with UKBA to progress the
        possibility of being a specialist authority in a „no prejudice‟ manner.

       AGMA supports discussions continuing with UKBA to progress the
        possibility of having an assessment centre in the AGMA region in a „no
        prejudice‟ manner.

       AGMA confirm that they are willing for financial costing templates to be
        provided to UKBA in a „no prejudice‟ manner.

       AGMA confirm to Manchester that they would be willing to support
        discussions with the LGA and UKBA to make representation that there
        are to be no changes to the Grant Agreement if specialist authorities
        do not materialise.

       Officers update the Executive Board and AGMA as required on
        progress and issues relating to the reform of the UASC
        accommodation, support and funding processes.
Acronyms

ACPO – Association of Chief Police Officers

ADCS – Association Directors Children‟s Services

ADASS – Association Directors Adult Social Services

AGMA – Association Greater Manchester Authorities

ALG – Association of London Government

ASU – Asylum Screening Centre (UKBA)

CAHMS – Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services

COSLA – Convention of Scottish Local Authorities

CSSMT - Children‟s Services Senior Management Team

DCSF – Department for Children, Schools and Families

DFID – Department for International Development

GMDCS – Greater Manchester Director of Children‟s Services

GONW – Government Office Northwest

LAs – Local Authorities

LGA – Local Government Association


ILPA – Immigration Law Practitioners Association

IOM – International Organization for Migration

LGIB – Local Government International Bureau

LSC - Legal Service Commission

NAM – New Asylum Model

NASS – National Asylum Seeker Services

NGA - National Governors Association

NRUC – National Register for Unaccompanied Children
NWC(E) – North West Consortium(East)

PLO - Public Law Outline

RSG - Revenue Support Grant

RSMP - Regional Strategic Migration Partnership

RSSCB – Regional Strategic Safeguarding Board

UASC – Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

UKBA – UK Borders Agency (Home Office)

WLGA – Welsh Local Government Association

								
To top