Suffolk: Cost of caring for young asylum seekers hits �1.4m

THE cost of caring for young asylum seekers in Suffolk has rocketed over the last four years as more youngsters have been trafficked through Felixstowe.

The bill for providing care for unaccompanied children arriving in Suffolk has increased from �177,000 in 2006/7 to nearly �1.4million in 2009/10.

The figures were given in a Parliamentary answer from Home Office minister Damian Green. He was replying to a question from Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley about the cost to the Home Office for caring for asylum seekers since the start of the decade.

The Home Office provides funds to council social services departments to allow them to provide care for children and teenagers up to the age of 18 who arrive in Britain unaccompanied.

A spokesman for the Suffolk County Council said the number of young unaccompanied people who had been supported in the county had increased steadily since 2006/7.

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In that year the county had cared for 23 youngsters and by 2009/10 the number had increased to 78.

There had been a particular increase in the number of youngsters under 16 – and their care tended to be more expensive than that of older teenagers.

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The vast majority of youngsters are believed to have arrived in Suffolk through the port of Felixstowe – they had been found near the port or near the A14 or A12 in the area.

Increased unrest in Afghanistan and in Eritrea in east Africa is thought to have contributed to the increase in the number asylum seekers.

Adult and family asylum seekers are supported in a different way without the direct involvement of the county council.

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