Good practice in social care for refugees and asylum seekers

Glossary and abbreviations

Terms used in this guide

Age assessment is the process and methods by which the UK Border Agency (UKBA) or social services assess the age an asylum seeker says they are. No method can precisely determine age and so ages are usually given within a range of two years.

Age dispute is the situation where the UKBA or social services do not accept the age that the asylum seeker says they are.

An asylum seeker is a person who has asked for protection but has not received a decision on their application to become a refugee, or is waiting for the outcome of an appeal.

Discretionary leave to remain is temporary permission to stay in the UK and is unlikely to exceed three years.

The Hillingdon judgement established that that normally unaccompanied asylum-seeking children will need full support under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989, as opposed to section 17 of the Act.

Human Trafficking, can be defined as, ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation’[1]

Humanitarian Protection, which replaced Exceptional Leave to Remain in 2003, is the permission to stay on humanitarian grounds, when an application for asylum has been refused.

Indefinite leave to remain is permission to stay in the UK indefinitely.

Looked after children refers to people under the age of 18 who are in the care of a local authority or provided with accommodation by them under the Children Act 1989 or related legislation.

No recourse to public funds (NRPF) refers to people from abroad who are subject to immigration control and have no entitlement to welfare benefits, Home Office support for asylum seekers or public housing.

A refugee is an individual to whom the UK government has offered protection in accordance with the Refugee Convention 1951 and granted leave to stay.

A refused asylum seeker is someone whose asylum application has been unsuccessful and is waiting to go to their home country or has decided to stay without permission.

Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 gives local authorities a duty ‘to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need; and so far as is consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of such children by their families, by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children’s needs’.

Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 gives local authorities a duty to provide accommodation for any child in need who appears to require it ‘as a result of (a) there being no person who has parental responsibility for him; (b) his being lost or having been abandoned; or (c) the person who has been caring for him being prevented (whether or not permanently, and for whatever reason) from providing him with suitable accommodation or care’.

The Slough judgement redefined the interpretation of local authorities’ responsibilities to provide support under Section 21 of the National Assistance Act 1948.

Social care is defined by SCIE as ‘the provision of social work, personal care (but not nursing or medical care), protection or social support services to children in need or at risk and their families and carers, or adults at risk or with needs arising from illness, disability, old age or poverty and their families or other carers. That provision may have one or more of the following aims: to protect service users, to preserve or advance physical or mental health, to promote independence and social inclusion, to improve opportunities and life chances, to strengthen families and protect human rights in relation to people's social needs’.

UKBA was, until 2012, responsible for securing the UK borders and controlling migration in the UK. The agency was scrapped and replaced by two separate units within the Home Office: a visa and immigration service and an immigration law enforcement division. In this guide references made to UKBA are in reference to actions made by this agency during its existence.

Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) are children and young people, the majority of whom are aged 14 to 17, who have travelled independently to the UK to seek asylum.