Proposed cuts in legal aid budget evokes sharp response

It could mean cutting all legal aid for immigration


27th January 2011: The Government’s move to carry out massive cuts in the legal aid budget could eventually mean cutting all legal aid for immigration, other than asylum.

As of now, consultation on the issue of legal aid is on; and it comes to a close on 14th February 2011.

Before the deadline expires, you can furnish your response on the government specified form. You cane even bring to the fore your concerns in a letter.

The Law Society, in fact, apprehends the proposed withdrawal of funding in England and Wales would prevent people from pursuing compensation.

Already, president of the Law Society Linda Lee has told the BBC the proposals are unjust; and legal aid cuts would make it impossible to challenge pharmaceutical companies in the courts.

She is of the belief no one could take on these cases without help from the state. This would leave pharmaceutical companies beyond the reach of the law.

Lee has asserted she has seen first hand the effect these types of injuries have on individuals. They devastate their lives, they can destroy their earning potential, they are thrown to the bottom of the scrap heap. Who was going to help them? she has questioned.

Workers’ union Unite also is of the view thousands of the most vulnerable people, including those in social housing, could receive a direct hit by the government’s proposed legal aid reforms.

Unite is also urging MPs to sign an early day motion calling on the government to re-think the provision of legal services for the poorest in society.

According to the suggestions so far, the individuals should be less swift in using the legal system. Instead, they should try less formal resolutions.

The Ministry of Justice believes there are other routes to justice, making legal aid an unnecessary alternative form of funding.

In its document Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales, the government says alternative solutions should be sought when housing and welfare benefit advice was needed, rather than resorting to legal action.

Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke announced two consultations in November last year which aim to cut the £2 billion legal aid bill.

According to Kalayaan — an organisation which gives legal and employment support to migrant domestic workers in the UK — the most vulnerable will be left with insufficient support to access the justice system as a result of the cuts the government proposes to undertake.

If the government goes ahead and implement the cuts as proposed, only those with extreme and ‘attractive’ test cases are likely to find representation, or those who can pay for it, Kalayaan adds.


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