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Legal aid vote puts vulnerable children at greater risk
Following the House of Commons’ vote on the government's proposed regulations to introduce a residence test to qualify for legal aid –
Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:
'By voting to restrict legal aid only to people who have a "strong connection" with the UK undermines the government’s commitment to protect victims of trafficking under the Modern Slavery Bill.
'Many of the most vulnerable children – including those trafficked into a range of abuse – will be prevented from challenging damaging decisions that determine their fate, putting them at risk of further exploitation.
'Legal aid is critical to protecting children’s rights. It is vital the government abandons its damaging plans to introduce a residence test for civil legal aid and put children’s welfare and rights first.'
For more information, please contact Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or 07775 812 357 or email firstname.lastname@example.org For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.
Notes to editors:
- See the result of the vote, Hansard, 9 July 2014, page 75: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/chan21.pdf
- To find out more about the need for more effective support for trafficked children see Still at Risk: A review of support for trafficked children (http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-views/press-release/too-many-trafficked-children-left-without-support-report-finds ) by The Children’s Society and Refugee Council, commissioned by the Home Office.
- The Joint Committee on Human Rights has called for all children to be exempt from a residence test for legal aid: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201415/jtselect/jtrights/14/14.pdf
- The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.