The leader of Bromley Council has defended the decision to stop taking in lone asylum-seeking children until the government stumps up more cash.
Pressure to opt back into a London-wide agreement to take in vulnerable children is growing after the leader of the opposition launched a petition calling for a U-turn.
London councils are part of an agreement to take in a proportion of vulnerable children separated from their families, which for Bromley equates to roughly 47 – or 0.07% of the population.
As the council closed its accounts for the year in May, documents explained the authority was the first in the capital to remove itself from the rota and “will not receive any further young people”.
In response to the decision, Labour leader Angela Wilkins is petitioning the administration to reverse the call, and is so far being backed by 300 people.
Cllr Wilkins said: “The government asked all councils to take care of their share of refugee children – which is not unreasonable given that the UK is a relatively safe and affluent country and these children are alone and at risk of exploitation.
“Along with all London councils, Bromley originally agreed to this and were looking after around 50 children – not a high number for a borough with more than 330,000 residents.”
The shadow leader said the petition will be handed in at a full council meeting on 15 July.
Council leader Colin Smith said while Bromley will continue to honour the 0.07%, further government cuts are on the horizon: "There is very little to add to what was discussed last month at this stage, other than really to repeat that Bromley has stood and will continue to stand by our historically agreed voluntary commitment to host refugee children totalling 0.07 of the borough’s total child population.
“For anybody to intone or suggest otherwise as the petition does, is at best, and being very generous, disingenuous.
“As one of London’s worst funded boroughs and with further central government cuts to our budget already flagged up and heading our way, we simply cannot continue to fund ever expanding service pressures."
Earlier this year, London Councils reported a “substantial shortfall” between local government funding and the actual cost of caring for asylum seeking children.