A scheme to relieve pressure on local councils caring for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is set to be rolled out.

Under new legislation the National Transfer Scheme (NTS), which allows hard-pressed local authorities to transfer children to councils with greater capacity, will be extended to include Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said that he hoped local authorities across the United Kingdom would continue to "play their part" in providing protection for the thousands of children who need help each year.

Loading article content

Local councils are currently providing support to over 4,500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Mr Lewis said: "The National Transfer Scheme is essential in ensuring all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the care of local authorities get the support they need.

"I am delighted that so many local authorities have already expressed their interest in getting involved. By bringing forward this legislation we will have a truly national scheme.

"I hope that going forward, local authorities from all across the UK will volunteer to play their part in providing protection for the thousands of children who need our help each year.

Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns said: "I want to be sure that all unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Wales can secure the best possible care.

"Welsh local authorities have a long history of collaboration and I am glad that they are prepared to work together to support each other in this vitally important area."

Since 2010 more than 49,000 children, including almost 9,000 in the year ending September 2017, have been given asylum in the UK.