This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy

Lexis+ AI
Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Better access to legal aid for separated migrant children

News
Share:
Better access to legal aid for separated migrant children

By

Migrant children separated from their parents can now get faster and easier access to legal aid, after new legislation came into force today.

Migrant children separated from their parents can now get faster and easier access to legal aid, after new legislation came into force today.

The Legal Aid for Separated Children Order 2019 brings non-asylum immigration and citizenship matters into the scope of legal aid for under 18s who are not in the care of a parent, guardian or legal authority.   

Previously, vulnerable children making applications to remain in the UK could only apply for legal aid through the exceptional case funding (ECF) scheme.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) opted to amend the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) to bring immigration matters for unaccompanied and separated children into the legal aid scope after scrutinising evidence presented as part of a judicial review application brought by the Children's Society.

It also examined data on applications for funding.

A statutory instrument laid in July has now been approved by both houses of parliament.

The Children’s Society’s CEO Mark Russell said: “We are delighted the government has acted on their promise to ensure separated and unaccompanied children can resolve immigration issues and secure their citizenship, without the stress of applying for exceptional case funding, or trying to navigate complex human rights law all alone.

“We look forward to working closely with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that affected children and the professionals supporting them know about this vital change.”

Justice Minister Wendy Morton said: “This is a positive step to make sure we are offering the right support and protection to some of the most vulnerable in our society.”

She said the changes will mean migrant children who have been separated from their carers “can access the vital legal support they need faster and more easily”.

The MoJ said it will continue its work with the Children’s Society and other children’s charities on this issue.

The ECF scheme itself is also a focus of government action.

In its Legal Support Action Plan published earlier this year, the MoJ expressed its intention to improve the scheme including a series of pilots to “test the most effective forms of early legal support”.

Lexis+ AI