CHILD asylum seekers arriving in Britain are costing taxpayers £3 million a week, we can reveal.
A huge spike in young migrants left cash-strapped town halls with a £150 million bill last year.
Council chiefs attempted to find homes and schooling for around 4,500 children and teenagers, figures show.
The spending contrasts sharply with five years ago when authorities encountered 2,000 children costing £88 million.
The minors – known as Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children – become the responsibility of councils who have to accommodate them.
The biggest spending came in Croydon, south London, which had a bill of £23.9 million. The costs in Kent are around £8 million.
Local authorities who look after the youngsters receive £41,610 a year for under-16s and £33,215 for those up to 18. The Home Office is currently reviewing the payments in light of funding squeezes in town halls.
Officials are also concerned about adults posing as children to claim asylum which occurs nine times a week. There were 2,336 cases where the cases were disputed – with 1,403 turned out to be adults.
More than 500 people crossed the strait in 2018 with 80 per cent making the journey in last three months.
David Simmonds, Chairman of the Asylum and Refugee Task Group for the Local Government Association, said: “The level of funding we receive from Government only covers around half the costs that council incur. This has been a source of frustration for years.
“The main issue is that the money in the system is less than it actually costs to provide care to these children.
“Although 97% of councils have some UASC, many are reluctant to take significant numbers under the National Transfer Scheme which co-ordinates offers of support, because of the unfunded cost.
“When these children leave care councils still have a responsibility to them until the age of 25 and this means they can become responsible for even more expense.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK has a proud history of hosting, supporting and protecting those in need, including some of the most vulnerable children affected by the migration crisis.
“During 2015 and 2016, the number of unaccompanied children claiming asylum in the UK increased in line with the wider increase in overall asylum intake.
“We recognise that the level of Home Office funding available for supporting unaccompanied asylum seeking children is an issue for local authorities and this is under review.”