The cuts to legal aid are going to be extremely harmfulDecember 26th, 2010 | Posted by in Uncategorized
Slashes to legal aid are coming. Of all the numerous government programs and initiatives facing the axe, decreasing legal aid could end up creating the greatest injustice. Without legal aid funding, Britains welfare system does not have an essential check on corruption.
When the very poor have legal difficulty, they only option they have is to seek help from solicitors in London that are paid to help them through legal aid programs. Post spending cuts, only the most severe cases will have a hope of accessing a lawyer.
Does this leave any way for the impoverished to participate legally?? In a word, no. The immediate implication of reducing legal aid is to disenfranchise an whole segment of the population of the UK; the group that requires aid the most.
The above is not the most impactful argument against cutting legal aid. The principal problem is that the legal aid cuts basically remove the most effective check against dodgy and inefficient bureacrats. The legal complexity of bureaucracy can boggle the mind of experienced London solicitors, and benefit cases are some of the most unbelievably convoluted of any in Britain.
Expecting the impoversished and poorly educated to understand legal complexities that often confuse skilled lawyers is simply unrealistic. According to Mind, a top mental health charity in England and wales, 40% of those in the current incapacity benefit are mentally ill, the majority with depression. Suicides are common, and many have other serious medical conditions that are need of treatment.
The idea that these people should have the lowest access to legal services is not a good idea. Why should Britain pay for a welfare system in which needy persons do not have the power to legally defend themselves against chronic discrimination and injustice inbedded in the bureacracy itself?
Lawyers in London, who gave up high paying jobs to help the deprived, are essentially being told to cease and desist. This message is not what those doing work to help the poor should be receiving. The cuts to legal aid desperately need to be reconsidered.
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