Here is the link to Justice for All on the loss of a 3rd of the nations debt and housing advice with the full report downloadable
"A third of the country to lose homelessness advice A third of the country to lose homelessness advice A new Justice for All analysis suggests housing and debt advice under legal aid will not be available at all in a third of areas in England and Wales.
The new rules on legal aid – which in total would see 650,000 people losing help - mean so few cases will be covered that 30% of areas will not have a single adviser. This is despite government’s claim that they are retaining advice for those about to be made homeless.
This confirms the Government has given precious little thought to how the little help left over after already-drastic cuts will actually be delivered. By cutting frontline services rather than bureaucracy government will leave people across the country without advice to save their homes in emergency situations.
Government plans would limit housing and debt legal aid to the most desperate cases involving ‘immediate loss of home’, but advice agencies, often charities like Citizens Advice Bureaux, Shelter, or Law Centres, are struggling to see how they make administratively cumbersome legal aid contracts work for just the handful of remaining cases. Advice on employment or benefits issues, often the root cause of arrears and evictions, would be removed altogether from the scheme. Further plans to move the bulk of remaining advice to the phone means only a tiny number of people will get face-to-face help, which is often critical when a home is at risk.
Guidance from the soon-to-be scrapped Legal Services Commission, who administer the legal aid scheme, suggest full time advisers should take on between 250 and 300 cases each year. In 40 of 133 of the Commission’s ‘procurement’ areas government figures predict the combined number of face to face debt and housing cases will be less than 300.
Download the full briefing to see whether your area is affected
Don't forget to write to your MP if you haven't already, ahead of their last chance to vote on the Legal Aid Bill next week. Email Justice For AllJustice for All a coalition of charities, legal and advice agencies, politicians, trade unions, community groups and members of the public."
Email your MP - MPs vote on civil legal aid cuts tomorrow - to abolish nearly all legal advice and legal aid for civil law cases and family separations. If this goes through only the rich and powerful will be able to use the courts in civil cases.
Please send an email letter to your MP now - asking them to defend access to justice for the many, not just the few. The legal aid amendments are being voted on during Monday evening, and MPs can vote against the whole bill at 7pm on Wednesday.
Justice for All cover the report on disabled people and the legal aid cuts released by Scope today. "Scope report shows cuts will undermine welfare reform A report released today by disability charity Scope reveals the serious consequences for disabled people if the Government goes ahead with plans to cut Legal Aid. It also shows how removing help with welfare benefit appeals could undermine government's reform of the benefits system.
The report follows the experience of five people as they appeal against incorrect decisions, with and without the help of legal aid. It shows the vital role legal advice plays in helping people navigate a complex system.
Disabled people make up 58 per cent of those who receive legal aid for welfare benefits cases. This translates to over 78,000 disabled people each year who will be denied specialist legal advice if these measures go through.
It comes at a time when approximately 1.5 million people on Incapacity Benefit are being reassessed in a bid to create a more accurate system.
But, by denying 78,000 disabled people access to legal advice each year the charity shows how the Government is set to create a much less efficient and accurate system.
Disabled people who no longer qualify for legal advice may potentially miss out on vital support and could end up on the wrong benefit.
The report is called Legal Aid in welfare: the tool we can’t afford to lose and was commissioned by the Legal Action Group and Justice for All."
It's notable that it targets just a few key issues where I presume amendments will be pushed, and these are similar to the areas flagged by CitA and others previously. Here's an extract with the full shopping list:
"Suggested areas for closer scrutiny
The most complex social welfare law cases must remain within the scope of legal aid.
Welfare benefits: Advice is being cut completely for this often-complex and critical area of law. Justice for All is calling on government to retain legal aid for the more complex cases where people are appealing government decisions. More information: Citizens Advice
Housing: Some housing advice is being retained for people at imminent risk of homelessness, but we believe even this will be seriously undermined because advisors will have their hands tightly tied, for example unable to help people with serious housing benefit problems. The measures will also give rogue landlords a free reign to exploit vulnerable tenants. More information: Shelter
Employment: All employment advice is being removed from legal aid. We believe pre-tribunal advice not only prevents unnecessary cases from being brought, but is a vital lifeline for people facing severe exploitation at work, and should be retained. More information: Citizens Advice
Victims of domestic violence must not be denied legal aid Although government intends victims of domestic violence to still have access to legal aid for certain aspects of immigration and family law, we believe current drafting will mean tens of thousands of victims will be denied support. There are problems with both the definition and the requirements for proving domestic violence has occured. More information: National Federation of Women’s Institutes
Children must not be denied legal aid Official estimates suggest that 6,000 children under the age of 18 and 69,000 vulnerable young adults aged 18 to 24 will lose access to legal aid in their own right as a result of the Bill. A further 140,000 children will be affected as legal aid is removed from their parents. We are urging government to retain legal aid for children and young people. More information: Justrights campaign
The blanket cut to legal aid for immigration cases must be re-examined We are particularly concerned about the impact of cuts to several aspects of immigration law which do not seem to follow the Government's stated rationale for deciding what remained in scope. To give three examples, refugees would not be able to obtain assistance with family reunion cases to bring family members to safety; trafficked persons and children would be among those affected by the loss of legal aid for onward appeals, and the loss of legal aid for many immigration judicial reviews would mean there is no ability to hold the UK Border Agency to account. More information: Immigration Law Practitioners Association
Decision making must be independent We believes that an independent tribunal system to appeal decisions on entitlement to legal aid will be essential if, as seems likely, the Government takes direct control of the administration of legal aid. It is important in both practice and appearance that there is no suggestion of political interference in decisions on whether or not to grant legal aid. Many organisations, including the Legal Services Commission support this view. More information: Legal Action Group
Legal advice and representation must be maintained for the upper tribunals The current proposals limit the availability of legal aid for appeals of decisions in upper tribunals and other courts. LAG believes that this would lead to courts being inundated with appeals with no merit. A tribunal decision can usually only be appealed on a point of law and so expert assistance is necessary to determine if there is an arguable case for an appeal to be brought. Expert preparation and representation also assists in identifying the relevant issues, case law and legal arguments to be presented to the court, which saves time and other resources. More information: Legal Action Group
Telephone must not be the only way to access advice Proposals for access to much of civil legal aid to be via a telephone gateway risk blocking many vulnerable people from getting the help they need, as well as barring people simply unable to afford the call. It must remain possible for people to approach legal aid providers face-to-face and get help directly. More information: Shelter"
Justice for All have updated their site today-7.12.11 with feedback from the sessions in the House of Lords on how to lobby Lords-link below
"Lobby in the House of Lords Justice for All member Legal Aid Practitioners Group held two workshops in Westminster to help campaigners improve their lobbying and media skills.
Carol Storer, Director of LAPG chaired these workshops with the help of Lord Bach, Eva Hartshorn-Sanders, Senior Legislative and Political Adviser to the Labour party and Fiona Bawdon, a top legal journalist. Both evening sessions filled up with eager individuals looking to learn more on what happens now that the Bill has reached the Lords and what ways they can effectively lobby peers.
In the first half of the workshops Lord Bach and Eva Hartshorn- Sanders helped field questions on procedure in the House of Lords, the pathway the bill has left to go, practical issues, whipping in the lords, and what Lords are looking for when being lobbied. All attendees were encouraged to be part of the Justice for All ‘pair up with a peer’ initiative to ensure that lobbying is targeted at as many key peers as possible. Find out more about how you can ‘pair up with a peer’ www.justice-for-all.org.uk/Take-part
Justice for All has produced a guide to lobbying Lords based on the sessions -
LobbyingPeersGuide-4-.pdf (Adobe PDF - 128Kb)
In the second half Fiona Bawdon, Journalist talked about how to interest the press in your stories, specifically interesting them and helpful pointers on writing press releases. She focused on the need to avoid legal jargon, get the main story across in the first paragraph and simply add more detail in later parts. She also emphasised the importance of developing a relationship with journalists you want to target, and to tailor your stories to their interests and editorial policy.
We are grateful to the Baring Foundation for the financial assistance they have provided to support these workshops. Email Justice For AllJustice for All a coalition of charities, legal and advice agencies, politicians, trade unions, community groups and members of the public."
J4A update today stressing the need really to keep the pressure on as the bill comes into committee in the Lords the week after next
"Legal aid cuts to hit in April 2013 The Government announced that the £350 million of cuts to legal aid will be implemented in April 2013, six months later than originally feared.
This provides a small breather for those struggling to keep front line advice services going but doesn't change the long-term picture of 650 000 people losing out on vital advice. Equally controversial introduction of competitive tendering for criminal legal aid have been delayed until 'at least' 2015.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Secretary of State for Justice Ken Clarke said that trying to implement the cuts any earlier would be an 'administrative train crash'. Administration is a fundamental problem of the legal aid system, with paperwork costs having spiralled to £124m. The Government has yet to put forward any serious plan for reducing that budget, as it slashes funding to frontline advice.
Justice for All is hopeful significant improvements to the planned cuts can be achieved, softening the blow - but there is no doubt that in a little under 18 months time thousands more people with serious but everyday problems will be left with nowhere to turn.
Campaigners are making sure members of House of Lords, which is currently considering the proposals, are aware of the devastating effect the cut will have, and asking them to amend the Legal Aid Bill to protect the most vulnerable.
Find out how you can help by pairing up with a peer."
Justice for All have produced a briefing today on the importance of legally aided employment advice-link below
Link below to summary and to full briefing
"Employment advice is fair to good employers
Employment advice creates a fair workplace not only for workers, but also for good employers. That is the message to Government from Justice for All, which argues that legal aid advice on employment should be maintained.
Rogue employers can gain a commercial advantage of legitimate business by underpaying, or simply failing to pay, their staff. Legal aid advice on employment law is a key tool to make sure individuals can bring rogues to justice, levelling the playing field for companies that play fair.
Far from encouraging employment tribunals though, more often than not employment advice finds solutions to disputes before they reach that point. Citizens Advice estimate that just 7% of employment queries brought to CAB end up in tribunals.
Not only that, but cases that are seen by tribunals are quicker, simpler and cheaper for tribunals to consider if they have been prepared with the help of a legal adviser. This is a point made not just by our campaign, but by Lord Justice Carnwath, Senior President of Tribunals.
Justice for All has published a briefing, endorsed by campaign members experienced in employment issues, outlining why we believe legal aid must be retained for employment advice. We will be continuing to campaign on this in the New Year."