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Closed - Funding call: legal advice for survivors

Call for responsive research proposals on experiences of not accessing legal advice for people with lived experience.

Published: 25th November 2021

Funding call

The Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (the Modern Slavery PEC) has re-opened a targeted call for proposals on a research project examining experiences of not accessing legal advice for people with lived experience of modern slavery, particularly on their recovery and outcomes.

Following helpful feedback, we have re-opened this funding call, originally launched September 2021, to include the following changes:

  1. We have extended the project timeframe to six months (from four months), with scope to discuss timeframes with the successful applicant.
  2. We have increased the maximum budget to £70,000 (from £65,000) at 100% Full Economic Costs (FEC).
  3. We have amended the scope of the research to make it more flexible for the research teams. We have made the objective on assessing the scale of survivors unaware that they are entitled to access legal advice (objective F) "desirable" rather than "essential".
  4. We have made the requirements for key elements of the research more flexible, so that they can be confirmed in collaboration with the Modern Slavery PEC rather than being pre-fixed at the point of application.

The deadline for applications is at 4pm (UK time) on 11 January 2022.


Improving survivor recovery and support and understanding longer-term outcomes are priority research areas for the Modern Slavery PEC. Improving evidence on this issue is a priority for multiple stakeholder groups working to address modern slavery. Through an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) open call process, the Modern Slavery PEC has recently funded five research projects on this area which are all exploring longer term outcomes for people with lived experience of modern slavery. Further information about these projects can be found here.

Existing research has examined access to the legal aid system and immigration legal aid market more broadly, as well as access to immigration legal advice for survivors of modern slavery in England and Wales from the perspective of legal representatives and support organisers. Common themes identified by existing research found numerous barriers for survivors in accessing legal aid funded asylum and immigration advice, such as a lack of providers in particular regions, a lack of specialist legal representatives, confusion around legal aid entitlements and the legal aid funding structure being inadequate to compensate for time spent on a complex trafficking cases. Survivor perspectives and the impact of not accessing legal advice on survivor recovery and outcomes remain under-researched areas.

The outputs from this research project will contribute to the evidence base about the role of legal advice on survivor outcomes and build on the existing evidence about access to legal advice more broadly. The Modern Slavery PEC will use the findings to influence ongoing policy development in this area, including considerations on how to improve survivors’ access to legal advice, as announced in the government’s New Plan for Immigration in addition to the legal aid provisions set out in the Nationality and Borders Bill.

About the call

This call is part of the Modern Slavery PEC Responsive Research mechanism that has been created to fund responsive and agile research projects. It is led directly by the PEC, but is funded and actively supported by the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC).

The aim of this research project will be to explore the experiences of people with lived experience of modern slavery in not accessing legal advice, particularly the impact on recovery and outcomes. The project should identify both barriers to accessing legal advice and also any promising practice which could improve outcomes.

The scope of the research is limited to people with lived experience of modern slavery living in the UK and excludes the impact of barriers to accessing legal advice for dependents and trafficked children. Projects may address all UK countries. We will accept proposals that choose to focus the majority of the research on England and Wales if an adequate justification is provided, but we would expect to see a comparative element with other UK jurisdictions.

The objectives are to:

  • Assess the scale of survivors of modern slavery being unable to access advice on various areas of law and reasons for this;
  • Identify promising practices in promoting access to legal advice for people with lived experience of modern slavery;
  • Assess the impact of the inability to access adequate and timely legal advice for people with experience of modern slavery on decisions to enter the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), NRM conclusive ground decisions, compensation claims, as well as any immigration or asylum claim outcomes;
  • Assess the impact of being unable to access adequate and timely legal advice on the recovery and well-being of people with lived experience of modern slavery; and
  • Explore patterns according to the type of legal advice; final case outcome received, characteristics of individuals; and how this is experienced in different regions of the UK.

Desirable objectives:

  • Assess the scale of survivors of modern slavery unaware that they are entitled to access legal advice and reasons for this.

In accordance with the Modern Slavery PEC’s strategic objective of facilitating collaboration, successful teams will work in collaboration with the Modern Slavery PEC throughout the project to ensure alignment with our objectives and to maximise impact. This will include developing the research methodology and developing outputs such as the full report and summary briefing, as well as their dissemination.

The Modern Slavery PEC has allocated a maximum budget of £70,000 at 100% full economic cost (FEC) for this project. We expect to fund one project for this work. The project must be led by a UK higher education institution or approved research organisation eligible to receive UKRI funding, and it must be carried out in collaboration with at least one UK based third sector organisation.

You can find the full details and specification of the call in the application pack below.

Application process

The applications to this call must be made through our online form.

All applications will be reviewed by an assessment panel convened by the Modern Slavery PEC that will include external independent reviewers.

The deadline for applications is 4pm (UK time) 11 January 2022.

The decision on the award of the funding will be made by week beginning 31 January, with the project due to start the week beginning 28 February (to be confirmed with successful team), and final outputs to be delivered by August 2022.

Call Webinar & FAQs

A call webinar was held on 12 October 2021, this webinar went through the scope of the original call and answered questions from potential applicants. Please note that some of the information and requirements have changed in the reopened call. If you have further questions, including, but not limited to, the scope of the call, budgets, partnerships or the amendments made to the call, please email office@modernslaverypec.org.

You can download an FAQ document from the link below.

For any additional information, you can contact us by emailing office@modernslaverypec.org. Please allow two working days for a response and note that the Modern Slavery PEC office will be closed for Christmas break from 5pm 17 December 2021 to 4 January 2022.