A ruling put into action at the beginning of July leaves victims of trafficking at risk of re-exploitation and destitution
According to Home Office Policy, potential victims of trafficking who are having their cases reviewed and being accommodated by the Local Authority are entitled to receive £65 per week. This money is granted to help them with living costs, including supplementary food, hygiene products, and other daily expenses like stamps or photocopying.
Despite this, many victims of trafficking the IAS work with have reported receiving far less than this; with most receiving a weekly sum of only £35.
On or around 1 July 2020 the Home Office introduced a policy to discontinue subsistence payments of £35 per week for victims of trafficking (VOT) in initial accommodation.
Victims in this accommodation are given food, but the initial accommodation does not cover their essential living needs, such as toiletries and feminine hygiene products, supplementary food items, credit for their mobile phones, stamps, and photocopying. In fact, most hotels charge victims to use the WIFI in their hotel.
Heather Malunga, an IAS immigration lawyer who represents several victims of trafficking, says:
“The subsistence payment is payable in accordance with the state’s obligations under Article 12 ECAT, Article 11 EU Directive, Article 3 and 4 ECHR and pursuant to Guidance and the Contract.”
“The Home Office is in breach of this, leaving vulnerable victims at risk of further exploitation.”
Malunga goes on to discuss what she and her colleagues are doing to tackle this issue, telling me that she challenged this new ruling in one of her cases and the judge ordered interim relief, which reinstated support payments of £65 per week.
But, alarmingly, this is now happening on a wide scale.
“The decision to discontinue support for victims of trafficking has left victims unable to cater to their essential living needs,” she tells me. “This places them at high risk of being re-exploited financially, sexually, and emotionally.”
Reported by Luna Williams, with the assistance and guidance of Heather Malunga, an immigration lawyer and representative of victims of trafficking.
If you need assistance with an immigration matter, choose IAS lawyers. With offices in London and across the UK, we can help you no matter where you are or how complex your issue may be. Get in touch today to find out more.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
With our untimed Advice Session, our professional immigration lawyers will review your case and provide you with comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated caseworker will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your legal advisor will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.