Legal aid has been cut by £630 million (a 30% cut) from £2.11 billion in 2010-2011 to £1.48 billion in 2015-2016. This saving was achieved mainly as a result of the 2013 cuts to Legal Aid (LASPO 2013) and a number of further policy decisions taken by the government. With a number of narrow exceptions, No LEGAL AID is available for:
- Family Law (except in cases of Domestic Violence)
- Housing Issues (Unless you are homeless, facing eviction or the serious disrepair is putting your health at risk)
- Defending criminal accusations (if it is decided that you may not go to prison if found guilty and sentenced
It is ALWAYS important to check if legal aid is still available if you are facing a legal problem. The sad fact however is that the actions of the government has denied legal advice to those in need of it in situations where timely advice or representations (before situations escalate out of hand) could save everyone time, money and even their liberty by preventing problems before they spiral out of control.
But how does this effect my rights?
“Access to justice has commonly been thought of as a facilitative right, a right without which others cannot be enforced”
UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice System
The poorest and most vulnerable in society can no longer get help or advice on these issues under Legal Aid and with no means of paying for advice most have to go without. As a result these people are often unfairly treated.
Without legal aid to help the vulnerable, those making decisions know they can’t be challenged. Bent bosses are able to ruthlessly exploit workers, Loan sharks are left to offer debt “advice” and unfair decisions made by Local Authorities or Government Departments go unchallenged.
The £650 million a year cut to Legal Aid funding has not only destroyed the rights of those unable to get legal advice, they have damaged the rights of anybody unable to challenge those in charge.