A CHARITY which has provided immigration advice to hundreds of families in Lancashire has gone into administration.

Bosses at the Immigration Advisory Service (IAS) have closed their offices in Ainsworth Street, Blackburn.

It provided support across the BB, CA, FY, LA and PR postcode areas to those seeking immigration and asylum legal advice.

Administrators have been called in by IAS, which has 13 other branches nationwide, following government moves which meant immigration issues no longer qualified for legal aid.

And there was a 10 per cent cut in legal aid fees for asylum cases, as part of the same reforms, which has made the organisation’s position untenable.

The immigration work alone accounts for 60 per cent of the service’s income.

An IAS spokesman added: “There are few organisations that could cope with the compound effect of removal of immigration from the scope of legal aid and a cut in fees for asylum clients.”

The service had also been struggling after being ordered by the Legal Services Commission to repay a significant undisclosed sum for legal aid work claimed in error.

The IAS spokesman urged people not to attend any branch office and advised that the service’s position had been conveyed to all immigration tribunals and appeals panels.

A Legal Services Commissions spokesman added: “Our priority now is to work closely with IAS and the admin-istrators to ensure clients of IAS continue to get the help they need, whilst safeguarding public money.

“We are now identifying alternative advice provision in the areas affected and arrangements for case transfer will follow as soon as possible.”

Around 300 people are employed nationally by the IAS but it is unclear how many positions are held at Blackburn.