Post by Colin Henderson on Mar 7, 2012 10:35:39 GMT
Whatever the rights and wrongs of CitA targeting specific areas, they are both very thorough - hat tip to James.
Here is the press release for Out of Scope, Out of Mind:
"Legal aid cuts will make it almost impossible for many Citizens Advice Bureaux to carry on providing specialist advice, leaving tens of thousands of people with nowhere to turn with serious but everyday legal problems that could see them homeless, jobless and without any income, a new report warns today.
Writing in the introduction to the report on who really loses from legal aid reform, Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy says that abolishing legal aid for issues such as welfare benefits, debt, most housing problems and employment will have a devastating impact on the capacity of the CAB service to provide specialist advice and casework,.
The warning comes as the Legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill reaches its final stages in the House of Lords.
“Specialist advice has become a core part of the CAB service,” says Gillian Guy. “Our frontline caseworkers and managers have told us that the impact of the proposed changes to legal aid on specialist services will be devastating. The overwhelming majority say that it will be impossible to provide a specialist service, whilst over half say that it may be impossible to continue providing any advice service at all.”
Out of scope, out of mind tells the stories of some of the many thousands of clients who have sought advice and been helped by their local CAB in the last 18 months, but whose problems will not qualify for free legal help in future. In most cases it has been CAB specialist legal aid advice which has helped them resolve their problems.
Gillian Guy writes: “Our real concern is how these types of problems will be resolved if specialist casework services are no longer available. The vulnerability of the clients in the cases outlined in the report is striking. Serious cases of unmanageable debt, refusal of benefits and unfair dismissal will simply get worse. And the worse these problems get, the greater the cost for public services and the economy.”
She says the report shows conclusively that early intervention and casework funded by legal aid works. “In the absence of free legal advice, the risk is that these individuals will not only be out of scope, but out of mind.”
From April 2013, social welfare law will be taken ‘out of scope’ of legal aid. This means legal aid advice will be abolished for all welfare benefit matters, debt, employment and all housing cases except those where a person’s home is at “immediate risk” or where housing disrepair poses a serious threat to health. Legal aid advice on issues involving immigration status and family breakdown will also be abolished, except where detention, domestic violence, child protection or state childcare are involved."