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POWYS will help out, and look after some child migrants landing in the UK if needed.

In August 2020, The Home Office wrote to councils in relation to unaccompanied child migrants.

They said that a crisis was brewing in Kent due to the numbers of vulnerable young people requiring care.

They asked other authorities to help by offering to look after some of the children.

At the time Powys County Council (PCC) had said that they would not be helping out.

Because of this, Cllr Stephen Hayes had “many people” contacting him to criticise the decision, believing the council should have shown more compassion.

At PCC’s meeting on Thursday, March 4, Cllr Hayes (Independent – Montgomery), asked a follow-up question as to what work was being done on helping child migrants that have landed in Kent?

He had submitted a formal question to Children’s Social Services and Culture portfolio holder Cllr Rachel Powell, which had been answered in writing before the meeting.

Cllr Hayes had been told  that: “The Housing Service would not be in position on its own to welcome or accommodate unaccompanied child migrants.”

Cllr Hayes said: “I’m afraid I’m extremely disappointed at the response I have received.

“It’s patronising and doesn’t address the points I have raised.

“Will you please respond to the questions I asked and acknowledge this is an issue that many residents are watching with extreme interest.”

Cllr Powell (Independent – Beguildy) apologised for the original response, and said : “It was very factual.

“This is clearly an area we need to step up on.”

Cllr Powell explained that there had been a discussion all across Wales following the request to help the team in Kent with the amount of unaccompanied migrants, both families and unaccompanied children landing at Dover.

Cllr Powell said:”The approach had been a national transfer scheme across Wales, whereby each county would agree to take a certain amount of children, with Cardiff and Newport leading on this.

“We were told from experience that most of the families and young people wanted to go for more urban location.”

Commitments had been made that  Cardiff and Newport, would not shoulder the whole burden,   and “all authorities will contribute appropriately.”

Director of Social Services, Alison Bulman, said: “We’re looking all the time to increase the capacity of our provision, so that if there are unaccompanied children who would benefit or require a rural environment, we would  accommodate those individuals as most appropriately as we can.”

Cllr Powell said that senior staff were to keep her fully briefed on the work and Powys’ involvement.

She suggested that the issue is brought before a scrutiny committee for discussion at a future date.

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