The Government is proposing to cut civil legal aid, which helps people deal with debt, housing, benefits, immigration, family law and many other issues. This will leave tens of thousands of vulnerable people without access to help and support to access their rights, and will result in destitution, debt and homelessness. The amount of money being cut equals a tiny percentage of the deficit, and is a true false economy as all the research shows that early advice saves the state money in the long-run. You can help us challenge these proposals by sending a letter to your MP asking them to oppose the proposals and by submitting a response to the consultation – a suggested response and sample MP letters are available here. For more details on the proposals please read the information below. Thank you for your help!
Legal Aid cuts – the longer version!
What will you do the next time you need help with benefits? Or when you are unfairly dismissed? Or when your landlord refuses to fix the leak in the roof that is making everything you own damp and mouldy?
If your answer was ‘Get some legal advice’ then get it while you can, as the government are going to take away Legal Aid funding for all of these kind of cases and many more – this is going to result in tens of thousands of people not being able to get advice in future. The government states that the rest of the voluntary sector will be able to pick up the pieces, but this simply isn’t true – thousands of voluntary sector agencies, like Citizens Advice Bureaux and Law Centres, are funded via legal aid and local authorities, so will be reducing services at a time when they are most needed. These changes will leave people living in disrepair, leave people without money to eat or heat their homes, and will leave people struggling with debts they cannot manage – all of which will cost the state more money in the long run than they will save by cutting the funding for advice to deal with the problems. Advice agency clients did not profit from the boom years, and certainly did not cause the bust – why are they now made to suffer to help the government balance the books?
Access to justice for all is essential in a democratic society; these proposed cuts are simply not fair as they hit the poorest the hardest.
How can people help to make a difference?
- Write to your MP and or local councillor, sample letters are available from your local advice centre or on www.advicewest.org.uk
- Comment on the government’s proposals by February 14th 2011: www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/legal-aid-reform-151110.htm - suggested responses are available on the Advicewest website.
- Join our Facebook campaign: ‘Say No to Legal Aid Cuts in the South West’
- Join us for a demonstration outside the South-West offices of the Legal Services Commission: Queens Square, Bristol, 7/02/11 from 12noon.
Thanks for your help – future users of legal advice service will thank you too!