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Asylum: Housing

Question for Home Office

UIN 126976, tabled on 8 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many people have been moved out of children's services into Home Office National Asylum Support Service accommodation while they are in the process of having an age assessment completed.

Answered on

15 December 2020

Where there is doubt about an individual’s age and there is no clear and credible documentary evidence, a local authority will undertake a Merton compliant age assessment to establish their eligibility for children’s services. It remains Home Office policy to give prominence to a Merton compliant assessment undertaken by a local authority, when making a decision on age for immigration purposes. Whilst the outcome of this assessment is pending, the local authority will continue to treat the individual as a child, and they will not be transferred to Home Office asylum support accommodation.

The Home Office has not taken away responsibility for Merton compliant age assessments from local authorities. However, the department has temporarily contracted a small team of qualified social workers to support the delivery of Kent Intake Unit’s (KIU) functions in respect of children and those claiming to be under 18 years old. In addition to providing support on safeguarding activities, part of the work of these social workers is to conduct shortened initial assessments on age.

We are fixing our broken asylum system to make it firm and fair. We will seek to stop abuse of the system while ensuring it is compassionate towards those who need our help, welcoming people through safe and legal routes.

As part of this work we are exploring with local authorities how we can improve the age assessment process.

Answered by

Home Office