The Time for Change is now!
MARCH 18, 2019
The Government is reviewing access to legal aid and is considering changes to the legal aid system.
Lots of people rely on legal aid to deal with issues around housing and family matters. But under the current system, many people in need don’t qualify for legal aid and can’t access free legal advice until they’ve reached crisis point. That can be as late as the day they end up in court.
- In 2013 the government cut legal aid for housing, benefits, debt, employment, immigration and family hitting vulnerable people such as the Windrush generation
- The number of people given early legal help fell from 573,000 to just 140,000 (in 2012/13 and 2017/18)
- Disabled people who were granted legal aid in welfare cases fell from 29,801 in 2011/12 to 308 in 2017/18
- Legal Aid is now a postcode lottery, Cornwall and Suffolk have 1 legal aid housing lawyer – other areas have none.
- The government have closed over 250 courts and made 5,000 job cuts since 2010 with 6500 more job cuts are to come.
- Court closures mean much longer travel times for court users and less access to justice.
Clearly, the current system is failing many.
The need for review has cross party support and a parliamentary debate has been secured by Alistair Carmichael MP and Andy Slaughter MP with 21 MPs from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Green parties, supporting the debate request.
The Westminster Hall debate, “The Future of Legal Aid” will be held on Thursday 1 November from 1:30-4:30pm and we need to ensure that MPs attend and fully participate!
We want to reverse the worst cuts so people can access the legal advice they need and want MPs to speak in favour of:
- restoring access to early advice
- restoring access to welfare-related advice, and
- simplifying the criteria for those who need legal aid to access it.
The time for change is now!