Failure to consult Councils a key argument in today’s ‘Help Refugees’ Court challenge

Rhion Jones comments: “The Dubs amendment controversy goes to the High Court. Following the Home Secretary’s announcement that the number of unaccompanied refugee children will be lower than expected, attention switches to the extent of consultation with local authorities. As viewers of BBC Question Time might have seen last night, the Government argued that local authorities could not take more children, but there are suggestions that they were not effectively consulted. Will the Judge agree?”

Original article:

Today – over eight months after the Dubs Amendment was brought into force – the Government has at last published what it says is the overall number of unaccompanied refugee children to be transferred from other European countries to the UK under the Dubs Amendment.

Help Refugees, a leading refugee organisation, is already challenging the Government’s failure to properly implement the Dubs Amendment in a judicial review.

Although the number of children to be transferred under the Dubs Amendment as initially proposed by Lord Dubs was 3,000, the Government’s is now offering only 350 places.

The Government has deducted the 200 places already taken by unaccompanied children transferred from Calais.

On the Government’s calculation, only 150 places remain for all children from the rest of Europe, including Greece where freezing conditions in refugee camps led to three deaths in one week this January.

The Help Refugees legal challenge- in which the next Court hearing is this Friday 10 February – asserts that the Government has failed to lawfully calculate the number of available places for unaccompanied children because it failed to properly consult with local authorities as the statute required it to do.

Josie Naughton, the co-founder of Help Refugees said “It is shameful that this Government is offering only 350 places- of which 200 are already taken- to some of the most vulnerable children in Europe. This makes our legal challenge all the more important and pressing. The Government could do so much more- remember the kindertransport?”
Rosa Curling, the human rights Solicitor at Leigh Day who represents Help Refugees said: “The consultation process by which the Home Office has calculated this low number was fundamentally flawed. There was no real consultation with many local authorities. Our legal challenge holds the Government to account on this critical issue of how many unaccompanied refugee children will be relocated to the UK and supported here.”

The Help Refugees legal challenge already yielded a major victory in December, when the Government had to back down over its interpretation of the Dubs Amendment. The Government had previously taken the position that it could meet its duties under the Dubs Amendment by complying with separate duties owed to children under EU law.

The Court granted a declaration in Help Refugees’ favour showing that the Dubs Amendment required the Government to admit children under the Dubs amendment in addition to those the Government was already required to accept under EU law.

Article originally published by Leigh Day

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About the Author

Rhion Jones is considered a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation. A founding Director of the Consultation Institute, he is co-author of “The Art of Consultation” – still the only major book on public consultation, and has delivered over 300 training courses and Masterclasses. He is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 300 different Topic papers and over 20 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 12,000 person-days of training based on courses he invented have been delivered. Rhion is in demand as an entertaining Keynote Speaker and Special Adviser, particularly on the Law of Consultation, and its implications for Government and the NHS.

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