VULNERABLE unaccompanied asylum-seeking children were sent to a hotel in the city "with less than 24 hours notice".

That is according to Brighton and Hove City Council leader Phelim Mac Cafferty, who has blasted the Home Office over its "poor planning".

It is reported that "at least one" of the children of the "dozens" being housed in a city hotel has tested positive for Covid.

Cllr Mac Cafferty hit out at the way children, who have fled their country of origin without the care or protection of their parents, have been treated.

He said he was concerned about their wellbeing "due to the speed at which this has happened".

He said: “We are deeply concerned that last week, with less than 24 hours’ notice, we were informed that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children were to be placed by the Home Office into a hotel in the city.

“We were not consulted about this decision, there was no discussion with our communities and all arrangements have been made and are being managed by the Home Office.

“We care deeply for the welfare of these children and have concerns, due to the speed at which this has happened, about their wellbeing and the support they are receiving.

“This should be the highest priority of the Home Office. We have requested officials and minsters provide us with information and reassurance about their current and ongoing care and support.

In many cases, the children are forced to leave their family and country behind to seek protection from violence, persecution, war, detention, climate change, terrorism or the disappearance of family.

In June this year, the Home Secretary and Education Secretary announced several changes to the National Transfer Scheme (NTS).

Under NTS, unaccompanied children seeking asylum are placed with local authorities around the country to ensure they are spread out evenly.

The changes included a touted "rota" scheme, which aimed to proved local authorities with a clearer indication as to the number of children to expect and when to except them.

This scheme is not mandatory for local authorities.

Cllr Mac Cafferty added: “Further, myself and Cllr Hannah Clare have written to Priti Patel, Secretary of State for the Home Department to raise our concerns and disappointingly we have yet to have a reply.

“While we continue to push for information, we are also seeking our own legal advice to clarify the responsibilities the Home Office has for these young people and what this covers exactly.

“As a council we’re proud to welcome and offer sanctuary to refugees and children who have arrived in the UK by themselves, from countries where war, persecution and climate change are making their lives unbearable.

"We’re currently caring for and supporting 38 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and over 100 unaccompanied asylum-seeking adults who are now care leavers.

“We firmly believe that all councils should play their part in supporting refugee children, the voluntary scheme we have at the moment is not working and we continue lobbying Government on this issue.

“We know many organisations in the city will want to offer support to the unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and we will be talking to the Home Office in the coming days about how offers of help can be put forward to them."

“We will not be providing any further details. This is to protect the young people and the people supporting them.

“We ask that everyone tries to understand that unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are very vulnerable and have complex needs, following on no doubt from extremely traumatic life experiences in their countries of origin and long and unsafe journeys. Like everyone else they are entitled to privacy.”

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokeswoman added: "We understand that one person has tested positive for Covid and that the Home Office is arranging PCR tests for all at the hotel."