More than 1,200 suspected modern slavery victims

UK Ministers admit hundreds of potential trafficking victims had subsistence rates unlawfully slashed

More than 1,200 suspected victims of modern slavery were deprived of financial support from the government in breach of the law, the Home Office has admitted.

The High Court ruled last November that a government decision to slash subsistence benefits for trafficking victims from £65 to £37.75 per week was unlawful, and the Home Office was subsequently forced to set up a repayment scheme last month.

Ministers have now admitted to the scale of the wrongdoing, saying in response to a written question they have so far identified 1,208 potential victims of trafficking who have been affected and are entitled to back payments.

Campaigners said the true figure is likely to be considerably higher due to difficulties contacting those who had already left official support, saying it was unlikely that all victims owed money would receive it.

Concerns have also been raised that the cuts to subsistence rates could be re-introduced after a government official in the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) claimed in a public forum that the “alignment itself was not unlawful” – only the “way it was done”.

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