28 Jun 2012

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said:

'The Children’s Society welcomes the Education Select Committee’s decision to examine the issue of destitution among migrant and asylum-seeking children on Wednesday, 4 July.

'It is unacceptable that thousands of children who have come to the UK seeking sanctuary from violence are being left hungry, homeless and forced to resort to increasingly desperate means to survive. From our services, we know they are being put at risk of abuse, exploitation, violence and long-term health problems because of immigration restrictions on their access to critical support.

'Asylum-seeking parents are not allowed to work to lift their children out of poverty. And they aren’t provided with the support they need to protect their children’s welfare. This is forcing families to live in severe deprivation during the crucial early years of their children’s lives. Many families are not even able to pay for the basics, including clothing, powdered milk and nappies for their babies.

'It is vital the government recognises that forced destitution of families is a crucial safeguarding issue. Urgent action is needed so that all children can access support to meet their needs.'

Ends

Media enquiries

For more information, please call Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or email beth.herzfeld@childrenssociety.org.uk For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors

  • The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life. 
  • For more information about child destitution, see The Children’s Society’s report I Don’t Feel Human: Experiences of destitution among young refugees and migrants and our briefing on asylum support, Highlighting the gap between asylum support and mainstream benefits.
  • This is a one-off oral evidence session on destitution among migrant and asylum-seeking children. The first panel of witnesses, which comprises experts from The Children’s Society, the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services and Association of Directors of Children’s Services, gives the Committee the opportunity to explore the issues raised with those responsible for providing local authority and voluntary sector services to such children.  This will be followed by evidence from the Children’s Minister and the Immigration Minister on relevant government policies.