Children England has received a written response to the open letter Please reinstate sanctuary for refugee children, signed by many children's sector leaders and sent to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd on February 12th. 

In light of Parliament's disappointing vote to uphold the termination of the Dubs Scheme at 350 unaccompanied children on February 23rd, we are not surprised that the Home Office's letter offers no further action to help refugee children in Europe, but simply affirms this limit and the government's commitment to using the Dublin Regulation (under which children with close family members already in the UK can be brought here to have asylum claims assessed).

Kathy Evans, Chief Executive of Children England, said:
"While the government's resistance to putting the safety of these vulnerable children before financial considerations doesn't come as a surprise, it remains a concern for the children's voluntary sector, and we will continue to call for government to honour the intention of Parliament when it voted to help thousands more children under the Dubs Scheme."

Home Office letter regarding Dubs Scheme Home Office letter regarding Dubs Scheme - page 2


Ministers made several compelling speeches in February 23rd's debate, including:

Geoffrey Cox, Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon: "The arguments about the push and pull factors that are sometimes used surround the problem with what I understand are difficult equations and judgments about the practicalities and complexities of whether we should take children or not. But sometimes we can surround a problem with a web of complication... The plight of a child transcends the complexities of push and pull factors."

Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing, Southall: "My own council, Ealing, along with the council leaders of Hammersmith and Fulham, Gedling and Camden, are just a few of those who have already called on the Government to re-consult council leaders to assess their decisions. More funding should be made available to these councils, if and where it is requested, in order to continue Britain’s proud tradition of providing shelter to those most in need."

Heidi Allen, Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire, said: "Ministers will say they are worried about the pull factor. First, let me say that we had this debate when we debated Dubs last year, and we accepted the evidence and expertise of NGOs that this legislation would not exacerbate a “pull”. Secondly, and so clearly, the very opposite happens. Having finally encouraged children to trust volunteers and the authorities, and coaxed them on the coaches to go to the centres in Calais, we now propose to whip the system away from them. When people cannot trust western Governments, whose welcoming arms they have sought, is it any surprise that the smiling face of the trafficker is the only place left to turn?

"All across the country, councils are stepping forward to say they can do more. Councillor David Simmonds of the Local Government Association told the Home Affairs Committee just yesterday that only 20 councils across the UK have met their 0.07% target... This evidence, I am sorry to say, suggests that a lack of capacity has not been proven and, as we know, this will be challenged in the courts... We must step up and be the partner that our European neighbours need. We must go back to our local authorities and ask again—and again.

"The humanitarian crisis will not end neatly at the end of this financial year, so neither must our compassion."