Children | Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)

A key area of work for the WMSMP is supporting regional working in regards to Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children often referred to as UASC for short. This work relates to the number of UASC migration strands, such as the Calais transfers under Dublin III or the Children transferred under the Dubs Amendment. It is also sometimes necessary for UASC to be transferred from one local authority to another under what is known as the National Transfer Scheme. To find out more about our work with UASC please see the boxes below . If you require further information, please see the links to further resources on this page.

Definition of UASC
  • a person under 18 (or who, in the absence of documentary evidence establishing age, appears to be under that age)
  • is applying for asylum in his or her own right
  • has no relative or guardian in the United Kingdom
National Transfer Scheme
The Government wrote to councils on 13 May with information on the future resettlement scheme for unaccompanied children, which will include the resettlement of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC), children deemed at risk from countries around Syria and children from other European countries into the UK. The first transfers as part of the scheme are expected to begin from 1 July, with a phased introduction from then on. The scheme aims to be voluntary and locally led, though Government would like to see all councils join the transfer scheme. The Immigration Act 2016 places a duty on councils to provide information about available services and an obligation to set out in writing reasons for not accepting a transfer. It also retains a duty to accept a transfer under a mandatory scheme, both across England and in individual councils, though government have indicated they wish to use these residual powers as a last resort. The Home Office will produce regular data to show the number of asylum-seeking and refugee children in each area. More information is given in a FAQ from the Government.
What services and support will UASC require?
Councils considering what sort of services to develop or expand will wish to note that the majority of UASC are overwhelmingly male (around 90%) and are aged 16 or 17 (over 61%). Eritrea was the largest nationality, followed by Afghanistan and Albania.  Check ONS Around half of this age group are placed in semi-independent living arrangements and half are fostered. Nearly all under 16-year-olds are fostered. Two thirds of initial decisions on their status post 18 were grants of some form of leave to stay in the UK. While the Immigration Act 2016  introduced new provisions on support for care leavers who have been refused leave to remain, these have not be fully implemented although several have been affected by bail arrangements. UASC enter the care of a council as a looked after child and have the same rights to help and support as a child who enters the care system for any other reason. Under previous regulations, children were the responsibility of the council where they first presented. As numbers increased, this has caused capacity issues for those areas which are ports of entry to the UK. The transfer scheme is designed to achieve a more equitable distribution to address these pressures.
How will the needs of UASC be assessed?
Children are referred to a local authority as soon as possible post arrival or post claiming asylum. Any child or young person claiming asylum undergoes a welfare interviews by the Home Office to collect biometrics and bio data and to establish whether they have immediate health or protection needs. Children are referred to a local authority as soon as possible post arrival or post claiming asylum. This programme will need to link to other issues and programmes including support for and reducing the risk of children going missing and being trafficked. In addition there is provision which aims to strengthen support for children who have been trafficked and exploited on their journeys or in this country.
The role of the WMSMP and regional work
The West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership helps to develop and support the UASC National Transfer Scheme in the region. The SMP has been charged with a number of tasks. These include:
  • Acting as regional point of contact for the Home Office UASC National Transfer Team in relation to individual cases where transfer is being sought
  • Establishing other agreed transfer arrangements with partner LAs in the West Midlands region aimed at achieving a fair and equitable distribution of  cases
  • Work with local authorities and key partners to ensure an effective operational understanding of the scheme and overcoming obstacles to the transfer scheme.
In addition to this, the SMP, with this additional capacity, aims to :
  • Monitor the progress and develop an overview of the National Transfer Scheme in the region, keeping  local authorities and other partners informed on a regular basis
  • Gain an understanding the experiences of local authority staff  and partners around the impact for young people of this process
  • Feedback to the Home Office on the collective experience and effectiveness of the programme and suggest any improvements identified in region
  • Coordinate Training  for areas which have been highlighted by a number of  Councils e.g.  Age Assessment, Trafficking  and Human Rights assessments
  • Provide a single point of contact, links, consultation and support to staff in participating Councils
  • Help to develop effective links with the independent sector to gain the benefit of their expertise locally and across the region
For further details contact wmsmp@birmingham.gov.uk