5 October 2012 — Morning Star
Officers at a flagship Tory council pleaded with ministers for more joined-up government after an asylum-seeker’s child starved to death, it emerged today.
In a letter seen by the Morning Star, Westminister Council’s Safeguarding Children Boar begged Home Secretary Theresa May and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith to fix Britain‘s broken support system for asylum-seekers following the death of ‘child EG.’
The 10-month-old boy was discovered dead in the family’s flat in north-west London in March, with a leaked post-mortem report showing ‘no food in his gut at all and so [he] had not eaten for several days at least’ – with evidence of ‘a long period of malnourishment.’
The child’s mother had already won her asylum case, granting her access to state benefits, but officers had not yet filed the paperwork.
In the letter sent in March but obtained by Inside Housing this week the board’s chairman cites similar cases in Birmingham and Westminster.
Backlogs had left young children with serious medical conditions and no access to public funds – forcing health and social care agencies to give families cash handouts to tide them over.
‘Safeguarding vulnerable children is a priority for public services. Joined-up government should be able to manage the transition from one form of public support to another without households having to face the additional stress of uncertainty and insecurity,’ Mr Bamford wrote.
The death came just a year after the government axed funding for the national Refugee Integration and Employment Service, forcing it to close.
Refugee Action chief executive Dave Garratt, whose charity helped run the service, said it had been ‘a lifeline to refugees.’
Those who had been granted right to remain still had no knowledge of how to access Britain‘s complex web of social and housing services, he said – and the ‘savagery’ of spending cuts to the refugee charity sector had only compounded the problem.
‘We have an international obligation to protect people who are fleeing persecution or conflict and not to abandon them in their hour of need.’
A Border Agency spokesperson said they had ‘already made several improvements’ to transitional arrangements, allowing refugees to remain in agency accommodation for the month following their decision.”