With the implementation of deep legal aid cuts in the coming months, whole swathes of society will find themselves deprived of access to justice. The Coalition’s claims that the move represents a sensible cost-cutting measure, which will challenge the existing ‘culture of litigation’ whilst protecting those in genuine need. Unlikely, I think, since their claim rests on the flawed assumption that those who seek advice on welfare, divorce, employment, and immigration (areas to be excluded from aid), are not at serious risk and therefore undeserving recipients of state assistance.
As is so often the case, women will suffer disproportionately when the cuts take effect, a fact acknowledged in the Government’s own equalities review. Of particular concern is the fact that aid will be available to women seeking divorce only where they have evidence of physical abuse; those suffering psychological victimisation must either endure their situation, or represent themselves in proceedings, a risky and challenging undertaking.
In an effort to challenge the attack on equal access to justice, a coalition of organisations, including the Fawcett Society, who have been shocked by the implications of Government ‘reform’ proposals have united to form the Justice for All Campaign. By taking a few moments to add your name to the pledge, you can help publicise the risks posed and, hopefully, force the ConDems to re-think this callous cut. Please click on the button below to make your pledge: