Why are our councils arguing over money while children die in the Calais jungle?

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The Consumer Watch Foundation can reveal that 400 children who have the right to escape the horrors of the Calais jungle refugee camp and come to Britain are being stopped by local authorities arguing over money.

It’s a fact that not one child has been helped to leave the  migrant camp despite changes to the UK’s Immigration Act in June.

Labour peer Lord Dubs said when he visited the camp recently: “There are 800 unaccompanied children in this camp and 387 now have the right to go to Britain, but not one has. I’m appalled and I’m terribly disappointed. I’ll be meeting with the new immigration minister soon and I will be bringing this up. We can’t keep doing nothing.”

Around 70 new people are arriving in the camp each day and it is now home to nearly 10,000. The mayor of Calais has also backed calls for the site to be dismantled as soon as possible.

But in a letter seen by CWF, Coun Paul Andrews, executive member of Manchester City Council’s refugee committee, says:  “It is vital that refugees and the communities they are welcomed into are properly supported including appropriate health, education and housing provision. Because of the extensive support that Greater Manchester has and continues to provide to asylum seekers and refugees, this means that any further commitments must be made in the knowledge that we can provide the appropriate level of help and that services are able to effectively cope with that demand.

“Discussions are being had with central government in light of these existing pressures to ensure that proper support and funding is provided not just to Syrian refugees but to asylum seekers and other refugees already being resettled into our communities through other programmes. Greater Manchester stands ready to take our fair allocation of Syrian refugees when the Government takes appropriate action to ensure that the whole country plays its part to meet our national obligations.”

The letter was shown to CWF on the day a 14-year-old was boy killed in a hit-and-run in Calais when a lorry driver ‘swerved left and right’ as he clung to the roof and flung him into oncoming traffic.

The child, from Afghanistan, had been in the infamous Jungle camp for six months when his 17-year-old cousin helped him onto the roof as the lorry slowed on the motorway approaching the port.

Paul Andrews said: “The people of Greater Manchester do have a proud history of welcoming people from all over the world to our country and our region. Greater Manchester has offered support to more asylum seekers than any other area in the country, and we continue to play our part in helping resettle refugees from around the globe who come here seeking support to start a new life through our historic and continuing commitment to resettlement programmes. Again having resettled more refugees than anywhere else in the country over a number of years.
“Discussions are being had with central government in light of these existing pressures to ensure that proper support and funding is provided not just to Syrian refugees but to asylum seekers and other refugees already being resettled into our communities through other programmes. Greater Manchester stands ready to take our fair allocation of Syrian refugees when the Government takes appropriate action to ensure that the whole country plays its part to meet our national obligations
.”
“This is clearly a combined authority issue. It appears to me that the current view of all is that they will not move on making any commitment to the VPR scheme until they get reassurances from the Minister and Home Office in regards to the future of asylum.”
“I know this may not be the response you were hoping for, but I thought it best to let you know the position.”

CWF tried contacting Coun Andrews, but he was away from his office … we are waiting for him to get back to us.

The Local Government Association said they had no knowledge of a meeting regarding refugees in the near future and pointed out that the Home Office now deals with these matters. The Vulnerable Person Scheme were approached for comment but at this point they have not returned our calls.

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