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LSC seeks to plug immigration gap

18 July 2011

The Legal Services Commission has said it is “urgently identifying alternative advice provision” following the collapse of the Immigration Advisory Service.

IAS went into administration earlier this month amid increasing financial difficulties, with 400 staff being made redundant overnight.

A spokesman for the LSC said the commission was “prioritising cases which are due in court now or in the next few weeks” so it could achieve case transfer as quickly and effectively as possible.

In an earlier statement, the LSC said the decision of the IAS to go into administration was “theirs alone”.

A spokesman went on: “During recent stewardship activities the LSC raised concerns around financial management and claims irregularities which prompted IAS trustees to conclude that the organisation was no longer financially viable.”

Solicitors Journal sources say that a recent audit by the LSC identified overclaims by the IAS running to millions of pounds and suggested that in numerous cases the charity had been unable to provide evidence of claimants’ eligibility.

The charity, which earned about £15m a year from its legal aid contracts, held discussions with the LSC over a new business model earlier this year but the talks did not result in any change to its management structure.

IAS is the second immigration charity to feel the consequences of the tightening of legal aid.

This time last year, Refugee and Migrant Justice went into administration blaming delays in payment. About 13,000 clients were left temporarily without an adviser.

Categorised in:

Legal Aid Discrimination Local government