In 2016, after defeats in the House of Lords, the government accepted an amendment to the immigration bill proposed by Lord Dubs requiring the Home Office to accept an unspecified number of unaccompanied child refugees from Europe for resettlement in the UK. To be eligible, children have to have arrived in Europe before March 2016 and it has to be in their best interests for them to come to the UK. Priority is supposed to be given to those deemed vulnerable, including at risk from trafficking.
At the time it was expected that around 3,000 children would benefit from the scheme, but when the government announced details in February 2017 it said only 350 spaces would be available. That number was subsequently increased to 480.
Yvette Cooper, the chair of the Commons home affairs committee, described the government’s approach as “completely inadequate” She said “Contrary to speedily delivering the Dubs scheme, less than half the places councils offered at the beginning of the year have been filled even though unaccompanied refugee children are spending another winter in camps or other unsuitable shelters in Greece and Italy,” she said. “All the government’s commitments to tackle modern slavery look hollow when they are still resisting implementing a scheme to prevent teenagers being exploited and trafficked in Europe."