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Nine out of ten Citizens Advice Bureaux (92 per cent) are finding it difficult to refer people to the specialist legal advice they need since cuts to legal aid came into effect last year, the charity has found, leading to benefits appeals failing because of lack of written submissions and supporting evidence.

Citizens Advice is reporting it is now extremely hard to get legal aid around issues such as housing, relationship breakdown or employment disputes. Where limited provision of legal aid remains people have to meet very stringent criteria. The length of time it takes to get legal aid means people’s situations often become far worse than they would have had there been earlier intervention.

In some cases legal aid is now simply not available, such as to help with getting employers to pay outstanding wages or challenging unfair benefit decisions.

Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Gillian Guy will today share this evidence with the Justice Select Committee inquiry into the impact of changes to civil legal aid. Guy will call for a Government strategy on funding of advice, to ensure that people can access the right level of advice, at the right time, in the right way for them.

Citizens Advice also reveals a 62 per cent increase in people seeking online advice about help with legal costs.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

 "Cuts to legal aid have created an advice gap, stranding people with nowhere to turn. At precisely the time when people’s need for specialist advice on issues such as housing and welfare increased, provision for this support has been slashed.

"Modern life presents increasingly complex problems and people need help to understand, adjust to, and in many cases challenge decisions affecting their income, housing and work status.

"In a rapidly changing world, where people’s expectations of services are rising, accessing the right advice at the right time will be critical to help people solve problems and understand what government changes mean for them."

In the year before changes introduced under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) came into effect Citizens Advice Bureaux provided specialist advice in approximately 136,000 cases to help people struggling with legal problems. Changes introduced under LASPO have withdrawn support for approximately 120,000 of these cases.

A CAB in the North West reported:

"Benefits appeals are failing as clients are unable to pay for supportive medical evidence and/or are attending on their own without submissions. There have been problems with referring clients to specialist advice to challenge decisions on benefit entitlement and overpayment issues, including assembling specialist medical evidence to support ESA and DLA/PIP claims and preparing cases for appeal."

 

Comments  

+1 #7 angela 2014-07-10 08:52
Quoting Jim Allison:
Quoting SWLABR:
Quoting Jim Allison:
It's disgraceful that claimants cannot get access to legal aid for social security benefits or appeals. However, if you're a burglar, robber, child molester, beat up people or even murder them free legal aid is available no questions asked.

British Justice - there isn't any !!

The American insurance industry isn't trying to gain from burglaries, muggings etc the way it potentially could (to the tune of many billions of pounds annually) if the benefits system can be done away with and everyone is forced to buy insurance instead. I'd say there's the difference and the rationale behind it all.


We're not in America, we're in the UK. As for insurance, I paid National Insurance contributions from I was 17 to 70 years old which was quite a lot of money. Any benefits I receive I've paid for via N.I. PAYE etc.

Well we are getting there people sleeping on the streets useing food banks don't make no different if you have work all your life paid your taxes you are treat the same NHS will be next no free treatment no money no treatment it,s comeing
+2 #6 Paul Richards 2014-07-09 22:53
Hi all,
Again, - this is an idea from our 'elected' ???!!! Coalition Government to prevent anyone on benefits getting their true rights as Jim Allison and angela have also said.
If one is say, a 'criminal' etc - then you can get your legal aid paid, - it seems with very few questions asked.
Truly sick and disabled people are not 'criminals' - although the Mass Media would like to intimate and tell the General Public otherwise!
If I was indeed a burglar/murdere r/child molester/rapist /illegal immigrant/hate preacher, etc, etc, then my rights would be very fully upheld - at the expense of the UK Government/Taxpayer.
It is a total disgrace that this should happen and low-life criminals should have their 'rights' totally upheld by the Judiciary.
Once again, - shame on this rotten Coalition Government to fully exclude their really deserving sick and disabled British Citizens of their own benefits and Human Rights, whilst also paying a raised amount of £113 Bn in Overseas Aid.
+1 #5 Jim Allison 2014-07-09 18:18
Quoting SWLABR:
Quoting Jim Allison:
It's disgraceful that claimants cannot get access to legal aid for social security benefits or appeals. However, if you're a burglar, robber, child molester, beat up people or even murder them free legal aid is available no questions asked.

British Justice - there isn't any !!

The American insurance industry isn't trying to gain from burglaries, muggings etc the way it potentially could (to the tune of many billions of pounds annually) if the benefits system can be done away with and everyone is forced to buy insurance instead. I'd say there's the difference and the rationale behind it all.


We're not in America, we're in the UK. As for insurance, I paid National Insurance contributions from I was 17 to 70 years old which was quite a lot of money. Any benefits I receive I've paid for via N.I. PAYE etc.
+1 #4 SWLABR 2014-07-09 09:52
Quoting Jim Allison:
It's disgraceful that claimants cannot get access to legal aid for social security benefits or appeals. However, if you're a burglar, robber, child molester, beat up people or even murder them free legal aid is available no questions asked.

British Justice - there isn't any !!

The American insurance industry isn't trying to gain from burglaries, muggings etc the way it potentially could (to the tune of many billions of pounds annually) if the benefits system can be done away with and everyone is forced to buy insurance instead. I'd say there's the difference and the rationale behind it all.
+3 #3 angela 2014-07-09 08:53
This was just another way of taking claimants off benefits make it impossible for them to fight for there rights make it easy for employres to sack you and then you end up with no benefits and no job can it get any worse you bet it can
+3 #2 Jim Allison 2014-07-08 23:24
It's disgraceful that claimants cannot get access to legal aid for social security benefits or appeals. However, if you're a burglar, robber, child molester, beat up people or even murder them free legal aid is available no questions asked.

British Justice - there isn't any !!
+4 #1 angela 2014-07-08 20:09
So the government got want they were after all cut legal aid knowing people could not afford to defend there cases

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