The report at Croydon Council’s Cabinet on Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children from the Labour Administration certainly paints a grim picture for vulnerable children in Croydon. It has been made much grimmer by the Bankruptcy of the Labour Council that has left Croydon in such a precarious financial position.
The cost of caring for these vulnerable children is a financial pressure which has always existed in Croydon due to the presence of Lunar House - with the Home Office Asylum Intake Unit located in the borough. A competent Administration should be able to deal with these pressures. However, in Croydon we have a bankrupt Labour Council that has let down residents in so many ways. With the Council having to cut £1m from Children’s Services and £500,000 from Library Services, is it any wonder that they cannot properly care for vulnerable migrant children?
As the Minority Group on the Council since 2014, we have always supported and pushed for fair Government funding for the UASC service – something with which we are in agreement with Labour.
However, it is also vital for us - and more importantly for Government - that there is confidence in the data provided. Recently, Croydon Labour claimed that the gap in funding was £7m. However, the intervention and challenge of the Improvement and Assurance Panel has provided the more realistic figure of £2.4 million. It seems that Croydon Labour are trying to put as much blame as possible onto the Government, rather than taking some responsibility for the funding shortfall themselves.
Our vulnerable children who have already been affected by the £1m in cuts to Children’s Services must be safeguarded. Croydon Labour’s paper is a grim choice between sacking agency workers who stepped in to protect these children when they need it most, or locking the door on vulnerable asylum seeking children.
This choice clearly demonstrates the precarious financial state of Croydon’s Labour Council - where the most vulnerable are the ones who suffer the most. It’s simply not fair. Croydon deserves better.