Newsflash: The government has announced plans to decimate the legal aid system. Don't let them get away with it! Read more below and on our Future page, and sign the petition. For other ways to get involved see our Take Action page.
The Save Legal Aid Campaign was set up by Young Legal Aid Lawyers to campaign against cuts to legal aid. This involves raising awareness of the importance of legal aid through blogging, and engaging with those charities whose membership is particularly affected by cuts in legal aid; lobbying MPs and Peers on the issue; and monitoring the impact of cuts as they happen, in order to influence future policy.
The legal aid system was introduced after World War Two as one of the pillars of the welfare state, providing a safety net for those who could not afford to pay for legal assistance. It provides a vital safety net, ensuring that individuals are able to enforce their legal rights, regardless of their income. However, this safety net has come under repeated attacks by successive governments determined to curtail public spending on legal aid, often at the expense of access to justice.
The most recent round of cuts to legal aid is primarily contained within the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012
. One of the main consequences of LASPO is that individuals will no longer be able to access free legal help for many important issues including welfare benefits advice, immigration appeals and family law disputes such as contact over children. This will leave many individuals without access to legal advice unless they can afford to pay privately. In addition, funding cuts mean that many law centres, advice centres and high street solicitors are starting to cut back services or even close down, meaning that many areas of the country will be left without any provision for free legal advice. The inevitable result of the legal aid cuts is that thousands of people, especially the most poor and vulnerable, will be denied access to justice. One of the focuses of our campaign is on monitoring the impact of these cuts, so we can let everyone, including the politicians, know just how damaging they are. So if you have a story to tell about how you, or someone you know, has been affected by the cuts in legal aid, then let us know, at our email address firstname.lastname@example.org
The government has also just announced proposals
for a whole range of new legal aid cuts, just days after the implementation of the LASPO cuts. The proposals include: introducing price competition for criminal work, resulting in clients having no choice over their solicitor, and work being given to the cheapest rather than the best; removing legal aid from a large number of prisoners and recent arrivals in the UK, even where vitally important issues are at stake; and restricting access to judicial review, the method by which we hold the state to account. These proposals will further impact on the vulnerable, as well as destroying the very foundations of the legal aid system. See here
for more detailed information on the proposals and sign the petition here
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