Legal aid to be restored to unaccompanied and separated children

Two UK government policy changes are highlighted in a new article on the Free Movement website.

Following on from a judicial review by the Children’s Society, the Justice Minister Lucy Frazer QC has announced the government’s plans to “lay an amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 to bring immigration matters for unaccompanied and separated children into scope of legal aid.”

In a written statement, the Justice Minister said:

“Following a judicial review brought by the Children’s Society, we have examined both the evidence presented as part of the case and our data on applications for funding. Based on the distinct nature of the cohort in question, and of our data regarding them, I have decided to bring these cases into the scope of legal aid to ensure access to justice.”

Once enacted, this will restore legal aid for unaccompanied children following a five-year campaign by the Children’s Society whose research suggests that thousands of children have been denied legal aid since new legislation came into force in 2013.

The Children’s Society chief executive, Matthew Reed said:

“This is an important change in policy which will go a long way to protecting some of the most marginalised and vulnerable young people in our communities.

“Legal aid is absolutely vital for ensuring that children can access justice. For children who are subject to immigration control and who are in this country on their own, it is an absolute life line. The government should be commended for this significant change for children and young people.”

Separately, the UK Home Secretary has confirmed that non-EU workers will have their right to strike made explicit in the Immigration Rules when they are amended in the autumn.

The Free Movement website is run by Colin Yeo and offers updates, commentary and advice on immigration and asylum law. It explains:

The specific change will add legal strike action to the list of exceptions to the rule on absences from employment without pay for migrant workers. It will make clear that there will be no immigration consequences for any migrant worker who takes part in legal strike action in the same way that a migrant worker is not disadvantaged if they take maternity or paternity leave.