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Biggest Asylum Advice Charity Goes Into Administration
The Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) is reported to have called in the administrators, effectively closing the doors to the biggest provider of free immigration and asylum advice in the UK.
The charitable provider of legal representation was the sectors largest and employed about 200 people, according to the BBC.
A sign on the door to the IAS’s Birmingham Office today told visitors to their New Street offices that the organisation had ceased to do business and security on the door told me that they are advising IAS clients to visit the IAS website to find out more information.
However, information is hard to come by at the moment with few details currently available with the IAS’s own website suggesting ‘business as usual’. Much of the information currently circulating is on forums, message boards and twitter with IAS staff finding themselves locked out of offices and shut away from information.
Some staff member’s texts appeared on the ilegal forum;
“IAS gone into administration check emails Bristol London Liverpool Manchester offices locks changed sat and I can’t get into birmingham…”
The Charity Commission visited the IAS in October 2004 and praised its ability to respond to respond to changes in the advice sector;
“Our overall impression is that the charity has proved itself able to respond well in an environment characterised by rapid change. The IAS seems focussed on its areas of expertise and, in a competitive environment, is clear about its niche and what distinguishes it from commercial service providers. The charity is outward-facing and evidently strives to be accessible to its users.”
However, something proved too much for the finances to withstand and the charity’s clients and staff face an uncertain future.
People posting on message boards questioned what precipitated the fall of the giant pointing the finger at the Legal Services Commission, the body that pays out Legal Aid for people on low incomes, IAS’s main income stream. Others wondered what will happen to the IAS’s clients, many of whom will have appeals scheduled to be heard in tribunals in the coming days.
The collapse of IAS comes a year after another charitable provider of immigration and asylum advice, Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ), also called in the administrators. The cost to the UK Treasury of that closure was estimated to be in excess of £3.6million in upfront costs plus the additional costs of unemployment benefits and loss of tax from RMJ workers made redundant. IAS was a larger charity with more staff and clients than RMJ and so the disruption and the overall cost is going to be greater.
How other advisors in the West Midlands and beyond will respond to the sudden increase in unrepresented asylum seekers is yet to be seen with many already said to be working at capacity.