The government has announced that it is to restrict the availability of legal aid for certain kinds of case.
This not only represents the latest attack on the poor by a Government of millionaires but also prejudices the Article 6 rights of those of limited means to achieve a fair hearing.
Campaign now to oppose the cuts in Legal Aid
Elvire Roberts commented
This disadvantages further the most disadvantaged. Even now there are less advocacy and CAB advice routes available. The Law Advice Centres have had to close due to lack of funding. And it suggests an advice line:- Deaf people have English as a second language, minimal access to interpreters. Even if there was a textphone line, in my experience (in Job Centres and Benefits Offices) the textphones are stored in a drawer because no-one knows how to use them and textphones still require good English skills. Therefore this runs contrary to the Equality Act.
As others say, in the long run this will prove extremely costly - both financially and (more importantly) in terms of human suffering.
The Government's proposals, if implemented, will deny millions access to justice
Anne Darby commented
In addition to campaigning for the basic needs of people for face to face support, advice and legal aid as outlined in previous posts, we need to be aware that services that rely on telephone access discriminate against those for whom using the telephone is difficult or impossible due to communication barriers. Oppose these changes!
gill quine commented
The government's proposed mandatory telephone gateway is likely to mark the beginning of the end for access to face to face advice for the poor and vulnerable.Please take up this campaign and preserve access to justice for those not able to campaign themselves
Pete Lowen commented
Legal aid for social welfare advice is being dismantled at a time when most other sources of advice for marginalised, vulnerable people is disappearing. In my opininion, this is apalling and represents a direct attack on one of the pillars of the welfare state. One of the functions of government is to protect its citizens not dismantle services for those with little or no voice to oppose these changes!
It is currently very difficult for people who need a legal aid lawyer to find one and the government's proposals will make it even more difficult and impossible in certain areas of law, particularly those affecting the most vulnerable people, and areas of the country to find a lawyer. Early legal advice can save public money in many cases, save legal aid!
Legal Aid is vital to help anyone in need to access assistance, whatever the circumstances, and should not be cut. More money should be put into Legal Aid, not taken away or restricted.
These cuts will not save money in the long run - they will put pressure on health social services and education as people are unable to challenge poor decisons regarding their benefits or get help with their debts and so face financial difficulties and risk homelessness
Anna Skehan commented
If the reforms go through people who are marginalised will have even less of a voice. Advice will disappear completely in some sectors, and this loss will be irreversable. The costs savings are minimal in comparison to the knock-on expense of dealing with litigants in person, or people who become destitute because they have no one to help them. You don't know what you've got until it's gone, and you think that you don't need these services until the day your own world falls in. Then you find out you do need help but there's no one left.
Cheryl Weston commented
Equal access to legal aid is necessary to ensure that individuals can excercise their legal rights. Early advice will prevent people getting to the stage where they are getting threatened with eviction and need emergency advice.
Pamela Judge commented
This is a really important bill to campaign about. If its proposals go through people on low incomes will have little or no access to legal advice on matters such as welfare benefits, housing, debt etc. We'll end up with one law for the rich and another for the poor.
BUSY BEE commented
Thankfully Article 6 of HRA has been included in latest revised revision of the Bill.
Juidth Kinson commented
Legal Aid has to be considered to protect children and vulnerable victims of abuse in matrimonial and child matters ...this is an outrage if victmims cannot protec tthemselves!
BUSY BEE commented
The times really are a changin' when I heard a Conservative Mp quote Bob Dylan's lyrics during the Parliamentary debate on Murdoch's bid for BSkyB. The times really are a changin' when I learnt that the Law Society employed the marketing company Unity to run their campaign against Legal Aid cuts because we the people have not campaigned by banner waving or online campaigning to save this important part of our Welfare State. Our democracy and our Human Rights are under threat if we the people don't don't Get Up Stand Up for Free Legal Aid.
James Lazou commented
This campaign is very winnable. Many peers and MPs are strongly against this including many of the crossbench peers. We need to mobilise people on this issue ASAP.
Karen Beumer commented
If these cuts go ahead we will be hurting the most vulnerable people in our society, especially during times such as we are experiencing when people are facing hardship and loss of jobs. We are becoming a Country we cannot be proud of.
Sara Bowen commented
If these cuts go ahead they will again be affecting the poor and vulnerable. It will also clog up the Tribunal Services system as there will undoubtedly be appeals going to Tribunal with no legal merits and also no real prospect of success. At least with advice we can filter out these cases. Also there will be loads appealing to the Upper Tribunal delaying the already very long process.
Furthermore these cuts will inevitably lead to job losses and 1) where the government are trying to get individuals off benefits they will in fact be forcing more to sign on 2) are the government prepared to give those who lose their jobs alternative employment ... No doub not.
These cuts are absurd and just a cost cutting exercise when in actual fact they will be adding with all of the backlogs and appeals.
Lisa Reese commented
If the Bill goes through there will be no Legal advice for people who lose their jobs or who need help to dispute cuts in their benefits. Ken Clarke seems to think the CAB can do this, but the CAB get alot of their Funding from Legal Aid contracts so presumebly alot of CAB services will be cut and some centre may close. The loss of the WB advice will save the government 25 milliion, a lot of money - about 50p a head for the UK. Isn't that cheap for providing a basic safety net for people. We are all vulnerable , we can all lose our jobs, get sick or fall on hard Times.
I wonder how many bankers bonuses you can pay out of 25 million.....
Anna Chiumento commented
A fair justice system depends upon fair access to legal representation. Once legal aid is cut, the quality of decision making will ineviatably suffer, leaving the most vulnerable most at risk.
David Marshall commented
Ill-considered cost-cutting which will deprive the poor of justice and will inevitably end up costing society more in the long run.