To coincide with the Justice for All day of action last week, Legal Action Group has published figures which show that over 50,000 Londoners will lose out on advice on common legal problems if the government goes ahead with its plans to cut civil legal aid.
Currently, 78,480 Londoners with problems in housing, benefits, employment, debt and education receive advice paid for by legal aid. According to the government’s own figures, if the cuts planned in the legal aid bill (due to be published next week) go ahead, nearly 52,000 Londoners will no longer get help. LAG calculates that advice providers in London, mainly Citizens Advice Bureaux, Law Centres and other not for profit organisations, along with some solicitors firms, will be cut by just under £10m, forcing many to either close their doors for good or cut back drastically on their services to the public.
LAG’s director Steve Hynes, speaking at a rally outside the Supreme Court in London on Friday, said, 'It is pointless for parliament to pass laws if people are denied the means to enforce them. The government needs to think again about its plans for civil legal aid or thousands of ordinary people will be denied justice.'
Overall LAG has estimated that more than 650,000 people will lose out on access to civil legal aid services if the government implements its plans for legal aid. LAG believes these cuts will lead to a rights deficit between what the law says people are entitled to and access to the advice and expert help often needed to enforce their legal rights. A full report on the figures is available on LAG's website. This also includes the details of the number of social welfare law cases for each area of the country and how to calculate the services which will be lost."