Unaccompanied and separated children back in the scope of legal aid
SLF funded Islington Law Centre and MiCLU represented The Children's Society in their 5 year long legal challenge to the government's 2013 removal of legal aid for children's immigration cases.
In a Ministerial Statement in the House of Commons on 12 July 2018 Lucy Frazer (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice) announced that changes will now be made to reinstate legal aid as of right for unaccompanied or separated migrant children requiring legal advice and representation in relation to immigration matters. This is the first time that the Lord Chancellor has exercised his powers to reinstate civil legal aid for a specified group.
In the face of the hostile environment and cut to services this is an important safeguard for children who face complex laws affecting every aspect of their lives. Children without a parent to advocate for them are particularly vulnerable, and, as Windrush has shown us, the effects of being unable to assert rights and entitlements in relation to immigration entitlements can last a lifetime.
The Strategic Legal Fund is proud to have supported this work since 2014, when we awarded funds to look at the changes to legal aid funding for judicial review challenges and possible challenges to LASPO.