Legal Aid Cuts
6th of June 2019 | Geri Palmer
On Monday the 3rd of June 2019, a team from Law Staff took part in the Cambridge Legal Walk. This was the second year that we have completed the 10-kilometre walk. Unfortunately, Marcus, our director, could not join in as he conveniently broke his foot last month, but he was waiting for the team at the finish line. We have been raising money for this wonderful charity (Eastern Legal Support Trust) over the last few weeks, managing to raise a total of £359.44 at the time of posting. With this charity in our thoughts it made me dig a little deeper into the root cause of this charity’s existence.
The Eastern Legal Support Trust, or ELST, provides funding and support to charities that give free legal help to those in need. Teams of access to justice supporters will come together with members of the community to support local advice services such as Citizens Advice Bureau and Law Centres. These Law Centres will in the future be forced to close down if they cannot be funded which is why we are supporting this vital charity.
Provision of legal advice is vanishing due to government cutbacks. Legal aid is crucial to the legal system and the need has increased over the last few years, but sadly law firms find themselves unable to take on anymore legal aid cases. Yet a high percentage of people rely on this service which fundamentally prevents families becoming homeless, gives older people the support they need and helps those who have suffered domestic abuse to name just a few examples of where legal aid is needed.
The BBC’s Shared Data Unit found, using data from 2011-12, that:
- Around a million fewer claims for legal aid are being processed annually.
- More than 1,000 fewer legal aid providers were paid for civil legal aid work than in 2011-12.
- Wales and the South West is covered by four legal aid providers for welfare whilst London and the South East is covered by 41.
- Almost half of community care legal aid providers are London-based.
The pioneering purpose of legal aid was to provide legal advice for those living on the breadline so that no one would be financially unable to prosecute a legal right whilst solicitors were to be compensated for their services. Without government funding it really is charities like Eastern Legal Support Trust that are sustaining legal aid, which is why we ask that you support us by donating as little or as much as you are able, so that they can continue to provide legal advice to those who need it most. It might not change the Legal Aid struggles across the country, but it will help someone, and that someone could be your brother, your friend’s grandma’s aunt, or your second cousin twice removed. Together we stand stronger.