In a report published two weeks ago, the UN Refugee Agency has drawn attention to the Scottish Government’s efforts to protect unaccompanied refugee children and has contrasted that with the lack of such care in England & Wales.
Readers may remember earlier evidence of a different approach here:
Extracts from the report:
Law and policy setting out the provision of guardianship services across the UK is varied. The service is most developed in Scotland, where the Scottish Government has fully funded the Scottish Guardianship Service for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and child victims of trafficking since 2013, managed and delivered by the Scottish Refugee Council and Aberlour Child Care Trust. The Scottish Guardianship Service supports young people by helping them navigate the immigration and welfare processes. Unaccompanied and separated children in Scotland should be referred to the Scottish Guardianship Service and, in many cases, this will be done by the LA. An evaluation highlighted the benefits of this scheme and which has so far been widely praised for its inclusion of all unaccompanied and separated children within its remit.
In 2015 the Scottish Parliament legislated to place guardianship on a statutory footing under the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015. Section 11 of the Act places an obligation on Scottish Ministers to provide a guardian not just to children and young people who have been identified as victims of trafficking but who may be or who are vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking and where no person in the UK has “parental rights and responsibilities” towards that child.
In England and Wales, in contrast, there is no formal scheme, nor any legal obligation to provide a guardian. Instead, it is considered that the requirement that a child is supported by a responsible adult, or special representative, can be satisfied by assigning the child a social worker.
Previous praise from the UN:
Extracts from a report on poverty referring to Scotland:
- Scotland has repeatedly urged the Government to halt the rollout and paid DWP for the introduction of certain flexibilities for claimants, such as the ability to receive payments more frequently.
- Scotland has the lowest poverty rates in the United Kingdom: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, “Poverty levels and trends in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland,” https://www.jrf.org.uk/data/poverty-levels-and-trends-england-wales-scotland-and
- However, Scotland has recently put in place schemes for addressing poverty, including its Fairer Scotland Action Plan and Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan. It has also used newly devolved powers to establish a promising social security system guided by the principles of dignity and social security as a human right and co-designed on the basis of evidence. The system eschews sanctions entirely and, in contrast to Universal Credit, is decidedly not digital by default. Rather, the stated goal it to make benefits equally accessible however people want to access them.