Save the Children – Unaccompanied child refugees

A blog post by Richard Crellin of The Children’s Society that has been published on Huffington Post UK has made the case for the reinstatement of legal aid for unaccompanied children in the UK. The post highlights the issues around refugee children in the UK who are unaccompanied and desperately need legal aid in order to get the legal rights that they’re entitled to. The saddening post shows that these children are significantly more likely to be exploited than they would be with the right help.

In 2012 the government made significant changes to the legal aid system that were the result of budget cuts, this meant that legal aid is denied to unaccompanied children if the case is not asylum-related. Research by The Children’s Society produced in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire shows that those affected by the cuts have come from being victims of trafficking, who are in care and in some cases are even British born and able to claim British citizenship.

The report will bring into sharp focus the human cost of cuts, some of these children are the most vulnerable in the UK and are denied any help in order to save money. Many might argue that the UK does not have a responsibility to these children, but they do, and they aren’t receiving the help that they need in order to live the best life possible or to even get the basic rights that they are eligible for. The government’s programme of budget cuts has been widely criticised. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn used the government’s budget cuts as a major focus of his general election campaign and insisted that austerity was a political choice rather than an economic necessity.

The use of austerity has been widely condemned, though it can help to balance the books there are few resources that show it is the most effective way of reducing budget deficits at it has been shown that although money is saved it has a knock on effect on prosperity in the markets that may have returned more money to the exchequer. Indeed many financial experts contend that austerity does not work and that countries need to grow out of budget deficits rather than cut to the bone.

The sad cases brought to light in the post are not likely to change the opinion of the government, though the Chancellor Phillip Hammond has intimated that austerity should be watered down after the poor general election showing of the Conservatives against a Labour party which harnessed the feelings of anti-austerity extremely well. But it is hoped that perhaps it can cause an opinion change in the public and that the change there is the one that causes political change as the will of the people is a strong indicator of future political policy. Though for many of these children, those changes will come too late.

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