Victims of trafficking entitled to arrears in payment after court ruling | Immigration and asylum

Thousands of trafficking victims whose government support payments were cut amid the pandemic are entitled to payment arrears of up to millions of pounds, following a high court ruling that ruled illegal politics.

His decision came after the Home Office cut financial support in July 2020 to victims of trafficking who had applied for asylum and were staying in hotels.

Previously, people in this group were eligible for support of up to £ 65 per week from the Home Office and were usually placed in self-contained accommodation where they bought and prepared their own food. After the pandemic started, some were placed in hotels and the money was withdrawn.

People were left without basic necessities such as toothpaste and hygiene products and it was reported that some had to resort to begging.

On August 30, the Home Office flip-flopped on politics after the launch of a lawsuit.

The High Court ruling on Friday by Peter Marquand, serving as Deputy High Court judge, concluded that the Home Office’s sudden change in policy aimed at supporting victims of trafficking who had also requested l asylum was illegal. A separate High Court hearing will be held to discuss the details of refunds for people who have had their money wrongly withdrawn in 2020.

The case was brought by a man who was trafficked from Ghana to the UK in March 2011. He was held captive at property in Birmingham and forced to work for his captors. He was physically abused with beatings before escaping. In November 2019, he was arrested as an illegal immigrant and identified as a potential victim of trafficking. In March 2020 he received government support and placed in temporary hotel accommodation, receiving £ 35 a week and three meals a day.

On July 10, 2020, his financial support was discontinued before being reinstated later at a lower rate.

Ahmed Aydeed of lawyers for Duncan Lewis, who brought the case on behalf of the trafficked victim, said: “We welcome the court’s decision and hope that the survivors can finally get the basic support they had. right and desperately needed. However, we will never know how many survivors were once again trafficked into debt bondage due to the illegal action of the Home Secretary.

Zoe Dexter, head of welfare and housing at the Helen Bamber Foundation, which supports asylum seekers and victims of trafficking, also welcomed the decision and said when the money was retired in 2020, the foundation stepped in to provide emergency aid.

“The Home Office’s decision in the summer of 2020 to suddenly withdraw vital livelihood funds from trafficking survivors, who were also seeking asylum, was devastating for so many affected. ” She said this group found themselves without adequate access to food, travel and the means to stay in touch with their support networks.

The Interior Ministry has been approached for comment.

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