In this blog our head of Legal Policy, Katy Nisbet provides insight on Clan Childlaw’s perspective in relation to the recent publishing of the ‘Placing Children In Hotel Accomodation – A Human Rights Analysis Report’ by the office of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland.
A report published last Thursday, 2nd November, by the office of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, shines a spotlight on an issue that we are increasingly seeing in our own practice. The report – titled ‘Placing Children in Hotel Accommodation – A Human Rights Analysis Report’ – highlights the increasing use of hotel-type accommodation in both the asylum and homelessness spaces. While the report focuses on children who have been accommodated with their families, it is also relevant to the increasing number of 16 and 17 year olds that are being placed in hotel-type accommodation on their own. It is the latter that we see in our case work, and – of huge concern to us – many of these placements are happening without any sort of assessment of the child’s needs. We see these types of placements being used to home unaccompanied asylum seeking children, who have had their looked after status terminated at 16, and 16 and 17 year olds who find themselves homeless whether they have previously been looked after or not.
At Clan we agree with the report when it states that as a matter of principle these placements should not be happening as they do not meet the needs of the vulnerable children that are subject to them. Moreover it should not be happening, as there are existing duties on local authorities to carry out needs assessments on a child and to meet the needs identified. As the report states public authorities are under a duty to carry out an assessment of need and if carried out in all cases these provide ‘a vehicle for ensuring that all of the rights issues in this report are considered, the available information assessed, and the necessary support provided to the child…’.
We support the findings in the report and call on local authorities to ensure that needs assessments are carried out for every child, and include in their considerations when completing the assessment how they will:
- Ensure that children’s best interests are a primary consideration in the decision.
- Ensure that children are afforded the opportunity to participate in decision making and that their views are given due weight.
- Ensure that the accommodation meets the necessary standards to provide a child with an adequate standard of living.
- Undertake a risk assessment and Children’s Rights Impact Assessment based on the individual needs and vulnerabilities of the child.
- Ensure that the accommodation does not violate the child’s right to the highest attainable standard of health.
- Ensure that the accommodation does not the child’s right to education.
- Ensure that the accommodation does not violate the child’s right to rest, play and leisure.
- Ensure that the accommodation does not violate the child’s right to freedom of association.
- Ensure that the accommodation does not violate the child’s right to respect for privacy and family life
- Take particular care when proposing to place refugee, disabled and/or looked after child in hotel type accommodation.
- Consider how to ensure that children are able to access suitably qualified state-funded legal advice and representation.
By doing so this ensures that placements are needs based and compliant with human rights and equalities obligations. To read more about the rights impacted by the placement of children in hotel-type accommodation go to the report.