Northants County Council demands lower citizenship fees for children

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Northamptonshire County Council will write to the secretary of state for immigration demanding that she reduces the fees for children to gain British citizenship and scrap them altogether for looked after children.

Councillors from all political parties backed the motion put forward by Liberal Democrat leader Chris Stanbra at County Hall yesterday (Thursday) to insist that Caroline Noakes reconsiders the fees levied.

Central government currently bills £1,012 for children’s citizenship making a £640 profit in the process.

The motion said: “In the UK there are significant numbers of children who do not currently have British citizenship.

“Without access to their citizenship rights, children may find themselves denied opportunities extended to their peers, such as the chance to participate in a school trip or to be eligible for funding so they can undertake higher education.

“The council asserts that no child should be denied their citizenship rights by reason for a fee.

“There is no substitute for citizenship, which is vital to future security and sense of belonging.”

The motion also resolved that the authority identifies all of its looked after children who are entitled to citizenship and make sure they are aware of their rights and support them to gain them.

The council has more than 1,000 looked after children in its care and Cllr Victoria Perry who has responsibility for children’s services said that in the past year the authority had paid for one child to gain citizenship.

Labour Cllr Anjona Roy said the inflated costs of the citizenship fees were part of the ‘hostile environment’ created by the conservative central government and that before 2010 the costs were much lower.

The motion was backed by all councillors.