In response to a claim for judicial review on behalf of YH, the Secretary of State for Home Department (‘SSHD’) has confirmed that the rate of financial support for victims and potential victims of trafficking (‘PVOT’) under the Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract (‘MSVCC’) will be amended on 1 March 2023.
From 1 March 2023, all victims of modern slavery who receive a positive reasonable grounds decision will receive the same rate of financial support, regardless of their accommodation status. The SSHD has also confirmed that she will provide the same level of financial support to PVOT who claim asylum as to PVOT who do not claim asylum. The new financial support rate will be set at £71.14 per week.
We represented YH in his claim for judicial review challenging the lawfulness of the financial support rates. At the date of the claim, the Statutory Guidance provided that a PVOT in self-catered accommodation provided under the MSVCC was entitled to financial support of £65 per week, but a victim in other forms of self-catered accommodation or who had no accommodation at all was only entitled to £40.85 per week. This meant that PVOT who were homeless received a lesser rate of support than those in MSVCC self-catered accommodation.
When the claim was issued, YH was residing in a homeless shelter with a time-limited placement. Prior to that he had been sleeping rough. As he was not residing in self-catered MSVCC accommodation he was receiving only £40.85 per week.
We argued that (1) there was no rational basis for treating those in MSVCC self-catered accommodation differently to those in other forms of self-catered accommodation or who had no accommodation at all, and such less favourable treatment was therefore unlawful, and (2) such less favourable treatment unjustifiably discriminated against YH and other PVOTS not in MSVCC self-catered accommodation, contrary to Article 14 ECHR, read with Article 4, and Article 1 of Protocol 1 ECHR. Responses to a Freedom of Information request showed that this less favourable treatment affects thousands of victims and potential victims of trafficking every year.
YH sought a declaration, an order requiring the SSHD to award him the £65 per week rate, backdated payments at £65 per week, and damages for the breach of his Article 14 rights.
The SSHD did not contest the claim and instead responded confirming that the Statutory Guidance was being amended. The SSHD agreed to award YH the higher £65 per week rate of financial support and make backdated payments to compensate for the period in which he was receiving the lower rate.
We are very grateful to the British Red Cross and London City Mission who supported YH, so that he was not sleeping rough and to the Helen Bamber Foundation and Latin American Women’s Rights Service who provided relevant evidence demonstrating the negative impact of the rates of support.
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