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Friday, 09 November 2018

Cuts to state support for potential human trafficking victims ruled unlawful

Written by Brian Farmer

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is considering his response after a High Court judge declared a decision to cut state cash support to potential victims of human trafficking unlawful.

Weekly payouts were cut from £65 to £37.75 in March, a month before Mr Javid took charge at the Home Office.

A teenage asylum seeker mounted a challenge and argued the cut was unlawful.

Home Office lawyers disputed the claim at a High Court hearing in London in October but on Thursday Mr Justice Mostyn ruled in the 19-year-old man's favour.

The judge said ministers had not complied with obligations imposed under equality legislation.

A Home Office spokesman said after the ruling: "Modern slavery is an abhorrent crime and the Government is clear that we will do all we can to tackle this issue.

"We have introduced world-leading legislation in the Modern Slavery Act, which gives law enforcement agencies the tools to target perpetrators, and expanded the support available to victims."

He said ministers were committed to ensuring victims of modern slavery got the support they needed, adding: "We accept the court judgment and will set out our response in due course."

Silvia Nicolaou Garcia, a solicitor based at law firm Simpson Millar, which represented the teenager, said: "Such a significant reduction to the subsistence payment forced our client into an increasingly untenable and, frankly, inhumane situation.

"He couldn't afford the travel necessary to meet with his solicitors, which he is required to do on a regular basis, he had accrued debt and he could no longer afford to buy clothes, food, or mobile credit to allow him to keep in touch with his professional support network or his friends."

She added: "We hope that the reversal of the cuts, and a back payment to cover losses, will help to provide stability and, importantly, safety for him."

The judge had been told how the teenager had fled persecution and severe exploitation at the hands of traffickers.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2018, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Kirsty O'Connor / PA Wire.