Well – did they consult or not?

The issue of refugee children will not go away – both in reality and in terms of a decency-check on the current Government, including the Home Secretary in particular.

The Government is adamant that the decision to close the ‘Dubs’ scheme, which many believed would allow the country to accept a further 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees, was because local government did not have the capacity for more than around 400. The evidence for this is that the Home Office asked councils and this is what councils told it. Simples.

The problem with this is twofold.

First of all, why did the Home Office go to councils direct rather than through or at least alongside the Local Government Association, which is there to broker conversations between central and local government?

Worse still, some councils are now claiming that they did indeed have the capacity, as reported in the Guardian over the weekend. Even if you just tot up the handful of councils appearing in the article, there are over 200 places which could and should have been made available.

It becomes difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Government is not being straight with us. Whether this is because the Government has decided to dispense with evidence-based policy-making (we are surely not yet at the point when Theresa May accuses David Cameron of bugging 10 Downing Street?) or whether something went horribly wrong with the Government’s attempt to survey several hundred councils, we don’t yet know.

But the fact remains that we are dealing with children’s lives here and the UK has again let them down.

* Chris White is a member of the Liberal Democrat Voice Editorial Team, a Liberal Democrat Councillor from St Albans and Deputy Leader of the LGA Liberal Democrat Group.

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  • nigel hunter 6th Mar '17 - 10:54pm

    By not going to the LGA they bypassed convention. What questions did they ask the councils? Which councils did they approach? It seems to me that whilst not all councils have replied the Govnt is stating that only 400 can be taken They have cut off the process early to suit the decision they wish to have.

  • Antony Watts 7th Mar '17 - 7:57am

    Fixing or dealing with the sad problem of refugee children is not an issue for local UK activities, proposals, agreements… it is certainly not a matter to be devolved down to local councils!

    This is a multi-national, or in other words an EU pan-national issue. Agreement has been discussed at the EU level and proposals have been made – share out the refugees and tighten all EU boarders.

    The UK government needs to get stuck in and work with the other 27 nations to implement this. Not fiddle about on its own at a minor management level.

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