Asylum seekers: government takes pressure off Kent

20 Apr 00
The government has taken responsibility for all asylum seekers in Kent in an attempt to take the pressure off the local authority.

21 April 2000

Conceding that the county could no longer cope with the number of asylum seekers, Home Secretary Jack Straw said the Southeast council would not have to support any future refugees, whether they made a claim at their port of entry or subsequently. At the same time, the government is phasing in the National Asylum Support Service to take responsibility for all asylum seekers who make a claim at their port of entry.

Councils will retain responsibility for all other asylum seekers, but the burgeoning numbers in Kent have forced the government's hand.

A spokeswoman for the LGA said that councils were struggling because the government has initially taken responsibility for a very small number of asylum seekers.

She said: 'The problem is that the number of people who claim asylum at the port of entry is only 20%–30% of the total, which still leaves large numbers in the care of overstretched local authorities.'

Meanwhile, refugee groups have attacked proposals from the Conservative Party which suggested setting up secure detention centres for asylum seekers until their cases have been determined. The government said such a scheme could cost £857m to run.


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