Thousands of domestic violence victims withdrawing from legal action after Government cuts, figures reveal

Exclusive in the Independent: Nearly 40 per cent jump in number refusing to press charges in single year

…At least 160,015 victims withdrew their support for charges in 2016 after police determined crimes had taken place, up from 116,885 in 2015, according to figures from 34 out of England’s 39 police forces.

read more here:

Latest legal aid figures. Social welfare – it’s a wipe out!

Latest legal aid figures. Social welfare – it’s a wipe out!

by nickd (Mylegal), ilegal team

It’s a wipe out!
The Ministry of Justice has today released the latest legal aid statistics. Remember these cuts were once promoted by the Coalition as one of their ‘top achievements’. I can’t help but feel today’s release couldn’t have been timed any better, the breaking news over the Brooks aquittal and Coulson conviction provides the MOJ with the ideal opportunity to slip these statistics out in silence – very much as per their usual transparency agenda….
I’m sure these will be analysed in detail over the weeks to come but for now I just want to draw your attention to the areas of social welfare law once well served by legal aid which helped advice agencies & law centres assist thousands of vulnerable individuals battle for their benefits – no easy task when your opponent is none other than the Secretary of State.
Download the data and take a look at “Table 9: Civil Legal Help – Providers available”

Welfare Benefit legal aid providers
   Year                    Number of providers
2011/12                              359
2012/13                             345
2013/14                                11*
* Of the 11, only 1 is a not for profit, the remaining 10 are all solicitors

Debt legal aid providers
   Year                    Number of providers
2011/12                            356
2012/13                            337
2013/14                              51*
* Of the 51, only 12 are not for profit, the remaining 39 are all solicitors

Employment legal aid providers
   Year                     Number of providers
2011/12                           179
2012/13                           169
2013/14                             8*
* Of the 8, there are no not for profit, all 8 are all solicitors

Housing legal aid providers
   Year                   Number of providers
2011/12                           530
2012/13                           509
2013/14                           228*
* Of the 228, 18 are not for profit, the remaining 210 are all solicitors

I’d call it a total wipe out, especially for the not for profit sector. I seem to remember the days when we were once highly regarded as part of what was once called the ‘Community Legal Service’, – but then came along the ‘Big Society’ which promptly saw an end to the once ‘innovative’ evolution of community based legal services.

From Ilegal:


The Government’s Legal Aid Cuts Are Leaving Vulnerable People With Nowhere to Turn

Politics and Insights

“Ministers keep using the mantra that their proposals are to protect the most vulnerable when, quite obviously, they are the exact opposite. If implemented their measures would, far from protecting the most vulnerable, directly harm them. Whatever they do in the end, Her Majesty’s Government should stop this 1984 Orwellian-type misuse of language.”  – Lord Bach, discussing the Legal Aid Bill.
Source: Hansard, Column 1557, 19 May, 2011.
Sadiq Khan Posted by Sadiq Khan, Shadow Lord Chancellor, Shadow Justice Secretary and Member of Parliament for Tooting, on 19 May 2014 In Huff Post Politics blog.
Solicitors, barristers, judges, legal advisors, campaigners and others will today take part in the London Legal Walk. Thousands of people will snake their way from the Royal Courts of Justice to Hyde Park and back to raise money in support of free legal advice charities in London and the South East. Last year, 7,500 walkers raised a…

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David Cameron’s legal aid cuts thrown into chaos after the Prime Minister’s own BROTHER wins a court case against them

  • Alex Cameron argued lawyers were not willing to work on slashed rates
  • Said defendants who couldn’t afford a lawyer were unable to get a fair trial
  • Judge backs the PM’s brother – leaving the government’s reforms in limbo
  • David Cameron was embarrassed today after his older brother won a landmark court case against the Government’s cuts.

    Top QC Alexander Cameron succeeded in getting a fraud trial thrown out – arguing that cuts to legal aid limited access to fair justice.

    Mr Cameron, who represented five defendants free of charge, was backed by a judge after claiming the controversial reforms presided over by his younger brother meant his clients could not find barristers good enough to represent them.

Legal aid is still available – but don’t tell anyone

(to go straight to the poster listing areas of law for which legal aid is available, click HERE)

The message that legal aid remains for many areas of law is not being heard. A new poster campaign aims to address the problem.

Legal aid is still available – but it seems that the government is not enthusiastic for the public to get the message.

Since the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act in April, which removed legal aid for huge swathes of advice areas, the take up of legal aid for cases that remain in scope has been much less than the Legal Aid Agency expected.

Hugh Barrett, the agency’s director of commissioning told the Legal Aid Practitioners Group conference that the take up of legal aid was significantly lower than the LAA had expected post-LASPO.

Last month, the Gazette reported that referrals to family mediation – the government’s flagship solution to the removal of legal aid – had plummeted in the three months from April to June 2013.

The number of couples attending MIAMS (mediation information and assessment meetings) fell by 47% and the number of referrals to family mediation dropped by an average of 26%.

Whatever the government claims about information being available on its website and through the telephone gateway, the message that legal aid remains for many areas of civil and all criminal law is not getting through.

A cynic might suggest this is what the government wants, keeping provision a secret will allow the Ministry of Justice to keep more money in its ever-shrinking kitty and give it the opportunity to claim that the demand for legal aid is falling, so it is right to cut funding.

The problem with this strategy is that it means many people are missing out on legal advice and being denied access to justice to enforce their rights.

It has been left to the Legal Aid Practitioners Group to step in to help rectify the situation. The organisation, which operates on a tiny budget, has paid a designer to put together a poster informing potential clients about the areas of law that are still eligible for legal aid.

Printing company Rap Spiderweb produced an initial print run of the posters for free and firms and advice centres can pay for additional copies to display.

All credit to the LAPG for producing it – it is undoubtedly a useful tool to help clients understand their entitlement to legal aid, but surely this should have been done by the government.

By Catherine Baksy in the “Law Society Gazette”, 30th October 2013:

145 specially appointed Government barristers demand rethink on Legal Aid plans

UK Human Rights Blog

lawyer-barrister-wig-007145 barristers on the Attorney General’s Panel of Counsel have signed a letter seeking that the Government to rethink its plans for reform of Legal Aid. I was one of the signatories. The letter is reproduced on the Legal Aid Changes blog.  

The letter relates specifically to Judicial Review, which is an area in which Panel counsel practise regularly. Here is a taster:

We consider that the proposals in the Consultation Paper will undermine the accountability of public bodies to the detriment of society as a whole and the vulnerable in particular. Those who are reliant on legal aid are most likely to be at the sharp end of the exercise of government power and are least likely to be able to fund judicial review for themselves, or effectively act in person.

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