Refugee children in hotels as UK care system overstretched

Refugee children left in hotels alone due to overstretched UK care system, Ofsted chief says
2 min read
07 December, 2021
Refugee children have been put in UK hotels, which independent government inspectors can't confirm are safe or not, because Britain's overstretched care system means there's a lack of suitable places for them to live.
Around 250 unaccompanied children asylum seekers are thought to be in UK hotels [Getty]

Refugee children have been put in hotels on their own because the UK care system cannot cope with demand, the head of British government regulator Ofsted has said.

The number of vulnerable children in the UK is at a record high, local media reported Ofsted chief Amanda Spielman as saying before the department's annual report on the state of education and social care in the country was published Tuesday. 

The struggles of unaccompanied migrant children are a particular concern to the UK inspector, with children routinely housed in hotels because of delays in transferring them to local authority care and a lack of suitable places for them to live, Ofsted told The New Arab. 

"Children should be treated as children, not least those arriving on our shores without friends or family, wanting safety, security, and a better future," said Ofsted's Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman. 

"It is extremely challenging to find them a place to live but using hotels is neither acceptable nor sustainable. No one would want that for their own children." 

Around 250 unaccompanied children asylum seekers, many of whom arrived in England on small boats, are being accommodated in hotels in England, reported The Guardian in November. 

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Without independent oversight, the watchdog told The New Arab that it is impossible to know whether these hotels are safe. 

The UK government made their transfer scheme for vulnerable migrant children temporarily mandatory in November so they could be moved to local authorities across the country. 

However, they are huge discrepancies in care facilities across the UK, with homes mostly clustered in the northwest and only five percent in London, according to Ofsted. 

Spielman said "boosting capacity has to be a priority" moving forward. 

In their annual report, Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2020/2, Ofsted said: "Local authorities are undoubtedly in a difficult position when it comes to finding somewhere for children to live." 

"But some are not doing all they can to make sure that the places they choose meet children’s individual needs and are safe and secure."

Ofsted could not confirm the number of children arriving in the UK or being taken into local authority care.