Immigration and benefits policy changes mean local authorities are struggling to cope with duties of care to thousands of children, a new report says

Thousands of children in the UK, many of them British, are living in dangerous, squalid conditions well below the poverty line as a result of rapid changes to government immigration and benefit policies, a report by the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society at the University of Oxford warned on Wednesday.

Children are the “collateral damage” of “a dysfunctional system in which they are the ultimate losers” according to the authors of the Compas report, which estimates that 3,391 families and 5,900 children were supported under local authorities’ Section 17 Children Act 1989 duties in 2012/13. Two thirds of families who were supported by local authorities for up to two years or more – at a cost of £28m for the year – were waiting for a decision from the Home Office; of the cases looked at by the study, 52% were granted leave to remain.

There is a tension between the desire to keep them out of the welfare state and a legal obligation on local authorities

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