Citizens Advice says government making a fundamental mistake on legal aid
21 June 2011
In response to the Sentencing and Legal Aid Bill published today which radically cuts the availability of civil and family legal aid, Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:
“The government is making a fundamental mistake on legal aid and it is those in greatest need who will suffer. Restricting the scope of legal aid is the wrong way to reform the system and may cost more than it saves.
“Civil legal aid keeps people in their homes, in their jobs and out of debt. These cuts will leave hundreds of thousands with nowhere to turn for help. Serious cases of family breakdown, unfair dismissal and refusal of benefits will simply get worse.
“At a time of economic uncertainty and big changes in work, welfare and public services, people need advice more than ever. The government has to make sure advice is there for those most in need of help.
“Today’s package will undermine the big society and have profound knock on costs for public services. Charities and community groups have all warned against this outcome. There cannot be justice for all without a workable civil legal aid system.”
Last year more than 300 specialist Citizens Advice Bureau case workers – who depend on legal aid - helped resolve more than 40,000 welfare benefit cases, almost 60,000 debt cases, over 9,000 housing case and 3,000 employment cases.
Notes to editors
- The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more information in England and Wales see www.citizensadvice.org.uk
- The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality. For online advice and information see www.adviceguide.org.uk
- Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.1 million clients on 6.9 million problems from April 2011 to March 2012. For full 2011/2012 service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
- Out of 22 national charities, the Citizens Advice service is ranked by the general public as being the most helpful, approachable, professional, informative, effective / cost effective, reputable and accountable (nfpSynergy’s Brand Attributes survey, May 2010).
- Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at around 3,500 service outlets across England and Wales.