Stephen Morgan MP in the chamber
Stephen Morgan MP in the chamber

Despite efforts made by the Portsmouth MP, the Minister has now both refused to meet with representatives from Portsmouth and refused to give a final date for the spending review completion. The consequences of this are strain on Portsmouth City Council and uncertainty for vulnerable young asylum seekers

 In August 2018, Stephen Morgan MP wrote to Rt. Hon. Caroline Nokes MP, Minister of State for Immigration regarding the pressing matter of Unaccompanied-Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) in Portsmouth. He pressed her to give local authorities more funding so that they can deal with the influx of vulnerable young people who so desperately need assistance.

In the letter Mr. Morgan wrote that the current money that the government administers to Portsmouth City Council is nowhere near sufficient and does not take into account the changes brought about by UASC’s, which when including the social worker fees, amount to an additional £627,000.

 Mr Morgan stated:

“These are some of the most vulnerable people we have in Portsmouth. Not only are they refugees who have fled violence, destruction and war, they are also children. It does not do this great country justice that we cannot provide them with the care and support they need”

 Stephen Morgan has stressed that the individuals responsible for providing the UASC’s with care operate at an exceptional standard and that Portsmouth City Council is amongst one of the most fiscally efficient in terms of relative spend. However, the additional costs incurred by the 98 vulnerable young people means that further funding is required.

Caroline Nokes’ response to Mr. Morgan’s letter was substandard. It expressed that a funding review, which has been ongoing since July 2017, is currently taking place and that no new funding would be given until it had been completed. It gave no finish date for the funding review and lacked any sort of solid content.

Mr. Morgan took action in Parliament seeking answers to when the review would be completed, she again refused to answer.

 The Minister responded to him saying:

“The review into funding to local authorities to support of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children remains ongoing. There are tough choices which need to be considered in the wider context of fiscal pressures the Home Office is also facing. It is right that time is taken to get these decisions right.” 

The Portsmouth MP has now made several attempts to glean information about when the funding review will be completed but the Minister has declined to answer at every opportunity. He has now both raised the matter with her directly by letter and asked her through parliamentary questions.

On the matter he expressed:

“I am bitterly disappointed by the Minister’s response. She has outright refused to give me a definitive date for when the funding review will be completed.

As it stands, care givers who work for the council are under excess strain, the young and vulnerable refugees are losing out on the care they need, and Portsmouth is being forced to pay money out of its coffers which it doesn’t have. 

The government needs to take responsibility and divert the relevant funds to the local authority”

 Stephen Morgan MP has said that we will continue to lobby the government until the city receives that funding that it needs. He has asked the Minister for a meeting, which she has declined.

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