Legal Aid was introduced in 1949 and is available for people on low incomes who would otherwise be unable to afford legal representation and access to the court system. Legal aid is regarded as central in providing access to justice by ensuring equality before the law, the right to counsel and the right to a fair trial.
The government has recently consulted on cuts to the legal aid budget. If their proposals go ahead, our ability to provide free advice and representation will be severely restricted. There will be no legal aid funding for cases involving welfare benefits, employment or immigration (unless you are detained), as well as a restriction in funding available for housing cases, and debt cases.
Unless they can pay for a solicitor, people will have to represent themselves in tribunal and court. We believe this will be very difficult for many of our clients because the cases we take on are frequently complex and require legal arguments to be made.
The Government also proposes to change the means test for legal aid so fewer people will qualify for help on other cases.
Our legal advice and representation at Coventry Law Centre is free to our clients. It is paid for by funding from Coventry City Council, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and other funders, and by Legal Aid.
We believe free, independent advice and representation on legal matters is essential to achieve justice for all. Legal rights have no meaning if you canít enforce them.
If you would like to help, please write to your local MP and complain against the cuts.