23 February 2017

Safe Passage urges Ministers to re-think decision to close the Dubs scheme for child refugees or face a vote in the Commons

In a debate in Parliament today on child refugees in Europe Heidi Allen MP confirmed that she has tabled an amendment to re-open the Dubs scheme and require the government to identify further capacity to help unaccompanied child refugees in Europe.

The amendment, tabled to the Children and Social Work Bill, will mean MPs will face a vote in the coming weeks on whether to keep the Dubs scheme open beyond April and support councils to identify further spaces for refugee children eligible under the scheme.

Safe Passage has been working with Heidi Allen and a cross-Party group of MPs to urge the Government to re-think the decision, however the failure of Ministers to listen to calls from across the House of Commons today in the debate means MPs will push ahead with an amendment.

A key argument of Ministers over the decision to limit the Dubs scheme to just 350 children was that councils had no more capacity. However Safe Passage is working with Refugee Welcome groups, communities and councils across the UK who have stepped forward to say they are willing to do more. The growing list of councils publicly supporting the call to keep the Dubs scheme open include: Hammersmith & Fulham, Hounslow, Ealing, Lambeth, Islington, Camden, Royal Borough of Greenwich, Sutton, Brighton & Hove, Bristol and Darlington. Birmingham Council have said they have capacity to take a further 79 children this year alone, and Lewisham pledged 23 spaces for Dubs children last summer but only 1 has arrived.

Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury said:

“Last year Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of opening the Dubs scheme for the most vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children in Europe so it is welcome news that MPs will be given the opportunity to vote again to keep this scheme open.

“Across Europe right now there are thousands of unaccompanied children who are extremely vulnerable; Safe Passage and other charities have found that the Dubs scheme can prevent them putting their hands in the lives of traffickers. Over the last fortnight, communities have stepped forward to say they can do more to help unaccompanied refugee children and council leaders are saying they have spaces available that haven’t been filled.

“I hope very much that Ministers will listen to the growing calls and re-think their decision so that Britain can continue to help the most vulnerable child refugees through this scheme.”