We can’t cope with more migrants, councils tell May: Town halls warn families face increased tax bills to pay for the influx
- Home Office gives £40,000 a year to councils for each young refugee
- But the total annual cost to each council can be as high as £133,000
- LGA’s David Simmonds says: ‘It isn’t right that taxpayers see rising bills’
Millions of families could face an increase in their council tax bills to pay for the influx of migrants from Calais, town halls warned last night.
Local authorities are expected to receive almost £40,000 a year from the Home Office for every young refugee they care for.
But they say the real cost can reach up to £133,000.
Councils claim austerity measures, which have seen their budgets cut by £18billion since 2010, mean they are unable to cover the shortfall.
It led to a warning last night from a local government chief that householders could face rising council tax bills if their town hall takes in migrants.
At least one in four cash-strapped councils is said to be refusing to take lone child migrants from the Jungle camp in Calais because of a row over funding.
David Simmonds, chairman of the Local Government Association’s asylum, refugee and migration task group, said: ‘How are the public going to feel if in a year’s time we are saying sorry we have got to close the library or close children’s centres because we have taken in refugee children and the Government is not willing to pay for it?
‘It isn’t right that local taxpayers could see rising bills to pay for things which are entirely a consequence of national actions.’
Councils are responsible for all costs with lone asylum seekers right up until the age of 25
David Simmonds (pictured) said determining a migrant’s true age was ‘educated guesswork’.
He also warned that Government funding has been guaranteed for only a year.
Councils are responsible for all costs associated with lone child asylum seekers up until the age of 25, and many are already struggling to cope.
The number of young migrants has risen by 54 per cent in a year because of the spiralling migration crisis.
At least 3,472 unaccompanied children were seeking asylum at the end of June.
Council chiefs expect hundreds more child refugees from Calais in the coming weeks, putting an additional strain on resources.
A voluntary Government scheme was launched in July urging councils to take a quota of the unaccompanied children.
But three of the nine regional local authority areas in England have yet to sign up to the scheme, according to a report by Leicestershire County Council.
Due to the varying number of councils within the regions it could mean as many as 76 – and at least 38 – of the country’s 152 local authorities are opting out.
Many of the migrants in the Jungle (pictured) want to come to Britain and, while they could eventually become taxpayers, they will initially be a burden on the system.
Leicestershire is refusing to sign up to the arrangement over concerns that it would have to pay more than £2million from its own coffers.
It said the Government grant makes no allowance ‘for any other specialist costs that may be incurred such as educational psychology and special educational needs’.
A spokesman for the council said the Government needed to ‘resolve the serious funding and practical issues involved’.
The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, which contains Prime Minister Theresa May’s constituency and has already taken in some Syrians, is not accepting any more children under the new scheme.
NOW TRAFFICKERS PUT UP FEES TO £13,500
People smugglers have increased the amount they are charging migrants to cross the Channel, a French immigration official said yesterday.
Migrants are now paying up to £13,500 for places on speedboats bound for the UK.
Jaoued Belmir, head of France’s Office of Immigration and Integration, said prices have risen because tougher security measures have made it harder for stowaways to reach Britain. Pre-arranged spots in the back of a lorry can cost up to £8,000 and traffickers can make up to £160,000 in a crossing by sneaking 20 migrants inside, according to Mr Belmir.
Others are being quoted five-figure sums to make the trip by air with fake passports.
Mr Belmir said the price rise has lead to a situation where ‘most of them do not have the means to pay the smugglers’.
The 23 councils across the North West region will accept no more than 100 child refugees between them.
Town halls in other areas said they were still ‘in discussion’ with the Home Office over the issue. The row comes after residents of a market town in North Devon said it was being used as a ‘dumping ground’ for migrants from the Jungle.
Up to 70 young male refugees are to be housed on a tranquil woodland estate two miles from the small town of Great Torrington.
Meanwhile, local authorities have threatened to withdraw free health care, education and housing if they discover that migrants are lying about being under 18.
Mr Simmonds. himself a Conservative councillor in the London Borough of Hillingdon, said determining a migrant’s true age was ‘educated guesswork’ and could end up in costly legal battles.
‘The age assessments have not been undertaken before they arrive in the care of a particular council,’ he said, adding that councils were given little time to find foster places.
The Home Office insists that all nine local authority regions in England are taking part in the scheme, which ensured that ‘caring responsibilities’ are shared across the country.
‘We have consulted with every region their capacity and substantially increased the levels of funding we give to local authorities for providing care,’ said a spokesman.