Sheffield Green Party has responded to the Government consultation on cutting legal aid, warning that the impact will be hardest on local advice centres and the people they serve. Legal aid currently supports free advice services in Sheffield – with a large number of volunteer advisers.
The Government plans to cut 23% of the whole legal aid budget but a massive 77% of funding to not-for-profit organisations. Councillor Jillian Creasy comments :
“We believe that good, timely legal advice is essential to prevent basic problems becoming serious. This benefits individuals, families and communities – and saves cost to the state. We welcome the recent Government U-turn on funding debt advice – as requested in the Green Party’s resolution passed by Sheffield City Council – and believe the Government should act consistently with this in its approach to legal aid.’
‘Legal aid is vital for people on low incomes precisely because solicitors’ fees are unaffordable at commercial rates. Cutting legal aid will only keep people ignorant of their rights and responsibilities and will lead to more exclusion. The effect will be worse in poor communities like Sheffield’s Central ward which I represent”.
For more information contact Eamonn Ward on 0114 2311548 / 0750 3883740 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. Or go direct to Cllr Jillian Creasy on 07791 614904.
1. Not-for-profit advice services in Sheffield which currently rely on legal aid include: Sharrow CAB, Pitsmoor CAB, Sheffield Law Centre, Foxhill & Parson Cross Advice Service, Heeley Advice Service, Shelter and Castle Advice Service.
2. The Government proposes to end all legal aid for people needing advice in welfare benefits, employment, debt advice, relationship breakdown and child contact and residence, clinical negligence, consumer problems, criminal injuries, education, housing disrepair, rehousing and homelessness, immigration rights and other areas.
3. The total cost of legal is £2.1bn a year nationally, mostly in criminal legal aid. The NFP sector receives £78m nationally (3.7%). The Government’s assessment of the impact is that the NFP sector will lose about 77% of its funding, compared to a 23% cut in legal aid funding overall.