Miranda Butler acts in successful challenge to trafficking maternity payments

Thursday 9 July 2020

Miranda Butler of the Garden Court Public Law Team acted in this claim with Alex Goodman of Landmark Chambers and was instructed by Shalini Patel, Toufique Hossain and Lily Parrott of Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

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The Home Secretary has conceded a judicial review challenge to her policy of making significantly lower payments to support victims of trafficking who are pregnant or have children, if they have not claimed asylum.

Before this challenge, victims of trafficking who did not claim asylum and their dependents received less than half the support offered to victims who had claimed asylum. This policy was challenged on the basis that the support provided to non-asylum seeking victims of trafficking was inadequate to meet their recovery needs, was discriminatory and in breach of the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Following the issue of this judicial review challenge, the Home Secretary agreed to increase the support offered to non-asylum seeking victims of trafficking to allow parity with those who have claimed asylum. In the announcement to stakeholders, she explained that “This change is the first step in delivering a need-based financial support policy. Over the coming months, the Home Office will engage with Victim Care Contract Providers and key stakeholders and make further improvements to the current system to ensure the financial support is focused on individual victims’ needs, including helping victims to transition to other more suitable services to help aid recovery”.

In an article written on the case in The Independent, Paul Blomfield MP said that this was a “welcome move”, noting that “the government has often claimed to be a world leader on modern slavery, but too often its policies fall short”. Tamara Barnett, director of Operations at the Human Trafficking Foundation said that “For too long the [National Referral Mechanism] and systems meant for supporting victims of modern slavery have been far too arbitrary, bureaucratic and frankly unfair. There is such a lottery in terms of outcomes and this is a step towards tackling this uneven system”.

This is the latest in a series of defeats for the Home Secretary regarding the treatment of victims of trafficking. In 2019 Miranda acted in NN & LP v Secretary of State for the Home Department, in which the Home Secretary agreed to remove her policy of withdrawing support for recognised victims of trafficking after 45 days.  In BS & JP v SSHD [2019] EWHC 3346 (Admin) the High Court accepted that the Home Secretary’s policy of delaying the determination of an application for discretionary leave as a victim of trafficking until after an asylum decision had been made, was unlawful.

Miranda is currently instructed with Amanda Weston QC in a challenge to the prohibition on victims of trafficking working while their claims are under consideration.

Miranda Butler acted in this claim with Alex Goodman of Landmark Chambers and was instructed by Shalini Patel, Toufique Hossain and Lily Parrott of Duncan Lewis Solicitors.

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