Increasing the capacity of immigration advice provision

Published: 5 May 2020 

New report provides practical advice for service providers across the UK

  • Methods of Increasing the Capacity of Immigration Advice Provision by Ceri Hutton and Jane Harris, is available to download from Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Trust for London here
  • The authors, Ceri Hutton and Jane Harris, explored the report findings in a webinar, which you can watch here.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Trust for London have published a new report which examines how voluntary sector organisations have improved the capacity, efficiency and accessibility of immigration advice provision across the UK.

Methods of Increasing the Capacity of Immigration Advice Provision was commissioned in the context of declining specialist immigration advice following cuts to legal aid. The research identifies nine methods voluntary sector organisations have developed to increase the capacity of the not-for-profit sector to meet immigration advice needs, either by introducing new provision, or by delivering existing advice in more efficient ways. These methods are grouped into three categories:

  • Category one contains methods aimed primarily at creating new capacity in the system of immigration advice provision, including pro bono work by commercial law firms, capacity building and teams of people supporting specialist advisors.
  • Category two includes methods aimed primarily at increasing the efficiency of how existing specialist immigration advice is provided. This includes in-house investment; remote advice and casework; outreach and referral partnerships, and other forms of joint working.
  • Category three includes methods aimed primarily at changing the environment specialist advisors are working in; e.g. the provision of online information and strategic work, including strategic litigation and policy-influencing.

For each method, the research provides case studies and identifies which clients and circumstances the method is appropriate for; their benefits and limitations; what organisations need to consider if they want to translate or replicate the methods; and what challenges they might face.

These methods are becoming even more relevant as service providers are handling the significant impacts of COVID-19.

Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive, Paul Hamlyn Foundation said: Over the past weeks, service providers have shown remarkable ingenuity as they adapt to the requirements of social distancing, but further adaptations may be needed: the pandemic is likely to affect the way immigration services are delivered for some time. We hope this report will help funders, service providers and voluntary sector organisations to learn from what’s working across the country, apply it to their service design, and improve the capacity and accessibility of vital advice for communities most at need.”

Bharat Mehta, Chief Executive, Trust for London said: This research was completed before COVID-19 struck, but its findings remain relevant as the need for advice increases and the ability to deliver it becomes more challenging. We hope this report will be a vital tool for all organisations who are working to ensure that people who need immigration advice have access to justice.”