York council to spend £275k on housing asylum-seeking teenagers

The City of York Council is set to spend £275,000 on housing four asylum-seeking teenagers.

Proposals to develop a welcome centre for asylum-seeking young people in York have been approved by the council’s executive team.

The council currently has 19 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in placements, 10 of which are within the council’s in-house provision.

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A further nine children are in private foster care, residential or supported accommodation.

The City of York Council executive team. Pic: CYCThe City of York Council executive team. Pic: CYC
The City of York Council executive team. Pic: CYC

The average cost per placement per week is £930, with the highest cost placement being £2,200 per week, but these figures are set to increase over time according to council officers.

Danielle Johnson, director of children's safeguarding, said: “We know that the number of unaccompanied young people that we are likely to look after is likely to increase over time.

“We are seeing other local authorities meeting their threshold which will mean there will be an increased pressure for ourselves.”

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Although the Home Office subsidises placements, forecasted expenditure is predicted to be up to £500,000 higher than the income the council receives from the Home Office.

Coun Bob Webb, executive member for children, said: “This welcome centre approach is a common sense approach, quite frankly - and for us, this is a caring approach that we’re welcoming these young people into our city.

“If we don’t take this approach, these young people could end up across the country, despite being in our care.

“That, quite frankly, costs us more and is worse for those young people.”

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Coun Webb said he can’t imagine the “very difficult circumstances” these young people have been through.

“This is an opportunity for us to reach out and do something positive for vulnerable people and that’s what we’ve chosen to do,” he added.

The Liberal Democrat opposition group leader Coun Nigel Ayre said he was “happy to support the paper.”

The council will commit a total spend of £275,000 from the existing capital budget to develop the supported accommodation provision to accommodate four asylum-seeking children who are either 16 or 17-years-old.

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A property on Wenlock Terrace, off Fulford Road, has already been purchased to provide residential care for up to six young people when it re-opens in February 2024.

A second such provision will be developed in 2024/25 within the available capital budget if approved by the majority of councillors on February 22.

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