Sajid Javid would be greatly assisted if people had proper legal advice.
Sajid Javid’s determination to remedy injustices inflicted on the Windrush generation appears serious. Various things, though, stand in his way. The civil service and agencies, degraded by a decade of severe public spending cuts, cannot respond deftly.
It is doubtful whether Home Office dysfunction can be fixed for Windrush citizens alone, meaning a resolution of their problems will prove difficult.
This capacity deficit would be greatly assisted if those affected had proper legal advice, a point made by the Law Society last week. In the year before LASPO’s legal aid cuts took effect, 22,496 legally aided non-asylum claims were initiated. In 2016/17 that number was just three.
But whereas skilled civil servants who were cut have dispersed, there remains a large cadre of specialist immigration lawyers working in private practice and not-for-profit organisations. Clients assisted by them would present ordered documentation based on the criteria sought – which could also winnow out those who do not have the right to be here.
The government, though, is at pains to stress that those affected do not need lawyers. This significantly increases the likelihood that Javid will fail on an issue he claims is personally important to him.