Refugee and Migrant Justice goes into administration
In the absence of any last minute intervention by the Government, RMJ Board of Trustees had to do the unthinkable and sign the papers to put the organisation into administration. It came as a shock, especially since RMJ wasn't asking for any new money. Here is the official press release.
So what happened? Well, the government decided that in order to speed up asylum decisions it would withhold the payment from the organisation providing legal assistance until the case is closed for good. Holding back the money should create a strong incentive to wrap up the case as soon as possible. And even if we put aside the thought that faster isn’t probably always better, for a charity like RMJ which deals with some of the most difficult, lengthy cases, this meant that it can take up to two years before their costs are reimbursed. When the new rules kicked in RMJ experienced a cash flow crisis.
So why didn’t they ask for a loan? After all, almost everyone from the government right down to us citizens is living on borrowed money. Well, it seems that charities are just about the only ones that cannot get bank loans to finance the cash gap. And while David Cameron speaking about a Big Society bank stressed that loans will have to be made available to charities, if the Big Society is to become more than a catchy phrase, RMJ unfortunately won’t be around to see it happen.
I guess, the irony of it all is that the problem hasn't been caused by the swinging axe of spending cuts. But since the estimated costs of closure to the taxpayer will be higher than the bridging capital needed to save RMJ, it will be an additional waste of money at the expense of some of the most vulnerable people and at the profit of unscrupulous law firms doing the minimum possible to advance their clients’ cases.
So it made a lot of sense to a lot of people to campaign to save RMJ. A case was made in almost every media outlet and a fierce public campaign was orchestrated by RMJ in the last month. Unfortunately to no avail.
We were all deeply sadden by the news and wish all the best to everyone working at RMJ.