PRITI Patel should apologise for slating Scottish councils' response to asylum seekers as it pursues plans that would curb help for unaccompanied children, Shona Robison has said.

Scotland's councils have agreed a rota scheme for taking in youngsters who arrive in the UK without parents or guardians. It aims to ensure these vulnerable minors get the help they need and sets out support for 45 girls and boys.

But that's now in jeopardy after Patel's Home Office revealed it plans to make its own National Transfer Scheme (NTS) compulsory for all UK councils – even though this would only provide for 44 young people in Scotland.

On Monday, Patel told MPs in the Commons that "local authorities around the country and in particular in Scotland have not played their part in actually offering dispersal accommodation".

She said "the Scottish Government has done absolutely nothing to lift a finger in terms of actually supporting the policy of dispersal accommodation".

Today Robison, Scotland's Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Secretary, said Patel should apologise for her remarks, telling MSPs: "I'm struggling to understand the remarks.

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"We have constantly over the years made this point to the UK Government but it's fallen on deaf ears – Scotland has more than played its part."

Robison, of the SNP, said Patel's characterisation of the response "does a great disservice to local government and the efforts they have made".

And she said asylum-seeking children are being used "as a political football to attack the Scottish Government". She said: "This issues is too important for that. My plea today is for them to listen.

"We want to give asylum-seeking children in particular the best support here in Scotland, please allow us to do it in a way we know will work best for them."

The councils' rota has been in place since October and Robison was responding to a question from Glasgow Kelvin MSP Kaukab Stewart.

There are around 200 unaccompanied refugee children in Scotland, the chamber heard. This includes 22 who arrived through the NTS scheme between January and September. Nineteen placements have been made since the rota came into effect in October.

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The UK Government provides councils with £143 in funding per child per night. MSPs heard that NTS only provides this cash once the young people have arrived and not beforehand – meaning there's no help to cover set-up costs.

In relation to the resettlement of refugees, official figures show that Scotland has taken in more people per head of its population for 14 of the last available 16 quarters since 2017 and, on average, gone 5.4% above population share. That's a greater rate than in Wales, Northern Ireland and even England, where the level is -12.8% below population share, and for which Patel has full responsibility.

Councillor Kelly Parry of councils body Cosla has called for urgent talks with Patel. She's repeatedly defended local government's response in Scotland against similar Home Office criticism.

She said councils are clear in their "opposition to the current approach around asylum dispersal in general and the use of hotels specifically", adding: "There is no funding in place for local statutory services to support people seeking asylum and, unfortunately, the current scale of hotel use across the UK is a direct consequence of the approach that the UK Government has chosen to take."

Robison's Holyrood comments followed an urgent question on the matter by Labour MSP Paul Sweeney, who called the situation "absolutely disgusting".

Robison said: "The proposals set out by the UK Government are a retrograde step which will create needless bureaucracy and do little to support the welfare and wellbeing of these highly vulnerable children."