THE Green Party has welcomed the announcement of a mandatory system for councils to take in refugee children.

Brighton and Hove Greens described the move as a "huge relief" after the government announced councils must take migrant children who have arrived in the UK without any parents or guardians into their care.

A voluntary scheme is now going to be made temporarily compulsory, meaning youngsters being looked after by authorities on England’s South Coast will be moved to other parts of the country.

Responding to the announcement, Green Party migration and refugee support spokesperson Benali Hamdache said: “After a Green Party campaign to get all local councils to take in and support refugee children, the government’s announcement today of a mandatory rota is a big step forward.

“Under the current system, councils like Brighton and Hove are stretching themselves beyond capacity by taking in as many asylum-seeking children as they possibly can, and more, while predominantly Tory councils refuse to play their part.

“Today’s announcement will mean that hundreds of vulnerable children can leave the hotels on the south coast where they have been left stranded and be moved to councils where they can get decent housing, support, and the care they need to restart their lives.

“This is a step forward, but the government needs to go further and reinstate the laws that mean refugee children can be reunited with their families. That would be a first step to creating a caring asylum policy that seeks to save lives rather than stoke hatred against refugees.”

Kevin Foster, one of the government’s immigration ministers, wrote to all 217 councils with children’s services across the country, informing them of plans to “temporarily mandate the National Transfer Scheme” and giving them two weeks to present reasons why they should not accept them.

The letter constitutes a “legal notice to accept transfers of children into their care, providing crucial placements to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC)” and is part of “urgent steps” to ensure “immediate, fuller participation” which is fair for all local authorities involved, the Home Office said.

It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel defended her efforts to tackle the migrant crisis and told MPs that councils around the UK need to “play their part” in offering accommodation to asylum seekers.

Hannah Clare, Deputy Leader of Brighton and Hove council, said: “Children arriving in this country after fleeing persecution and war are in desperate need of support, and in Brighton and Hove we have done all we can to house them. But other councils are choosing to look the other way. This has meant the Home Office has placed vulnerable children in hotels while they wait for local authorities to make secure accommodation available.

“It is a huge relief that other councils will now be forced to play their part and it will not just be left to a handful of councils to care for these vulnerable children. Spreading responsibility more evenly will mean thousands of children can be given the vital support they need."