Clarke’s legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit

Justice Select Committee Karl Turner MP explains how cuts to legal aid will cut our legal rights and not the deficit.

Ken Clarke

Karl Turner MP is a member of the Justice Select Committee

The government’s haste to reduce the deficit will see a speedy decline in access to justice. This week, the Justice Select Committee published its report on the government’s proposals for legal aid reform. It is clear from our report that the government’s haste to reduce the legal aid bill will prohibit access to justice and do little to reduce the deficit.

The Ministry of Justice’s legal aid reforms and the government’s proposals for deficit reduction are inseparable. The lord chancellor has accepted the responsibility of making cuts of 23 per cent to his budget, of which legal aid will make a substantial contribution.

In order to make quick and easy savings the government have wrongly chosen to reduce the scope of legal aid; our report states:

“There is the potential for the government to devise longer-term options for reform, rather than concentrating on simple options, such as reducing scope.”

Taking the quick and simple route will be hurtful to many of the most vulnerable in society. The governments own impact assessment outlined that:

“The proposals have the potential to disproportionately affect female clients, BAME (ethnic minority) client and ill or disabled people, when compared with the population as a whole.”

When we took evidence from the Advice Network and Advice Centres for Avon, they were keen to support this argument saying:

“We believe that [the reduction in numbers of cases eligible for legal aid as a result of scope changes] will represent a disaster for the thousands of individuals unable to seek redress for issues that affect their fundamental well-being.”

The government’s proposals will dramatically decrease access to justice for the most vulnerable. This is not going to happen by chance it is going to happen by choice. It was clear from representations made by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau that expenditure on legal aid actually saves the public money. For every £1 of legal aid expenditure on housing advice, debt advice and benefits advice the state saves £2.34, £2.98 and £8.80 respectively.

Our report also contradicts the Ministry of Justice’s argument that the shortfall in public funding can be made up by assistance from alternative sources. We heard evidence from many organisations including AgeUK, The Child Poverty Action Group, and Disability Alliance. All of these groups were quick to deny that this is the case.

The Free Representation Unit said:

“FRU does not provide initial advice to clients.”

Child Poverty Action Group stated:

“Unfortunately we do not have the resources to provide direct advice to people who are claiming benefits.”

The government are peddling falsehoods. Their untameable desire to cut the deficit at such a radical pace is closing the doors of justice for those who are in the most need. This is despite the fact that all the evidence demonstrates that irresponsible cuts to legal aid budgets will ratchet up costs across Whitehall.

It appears that even our constitutional right to justice is not free from the chancellor’s axe. 

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

25 Responses to “Clarke’s legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit”

  1. Jane Howie

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  2. innamood

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  3. Darren Jones

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  4. Pen

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  5. Paul Trembath

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  6. Kim Blake

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  7. Armchair Army

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  8. House Of Twits

    RT @leftfootfwd Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  9. ukuleleboy

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  10. Lindsay Edkins

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  11. MyProLaw

    Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit | Left Foot … http://bit.ly/h7BYKQ

  12. Double.Karma

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  13. Kamaljeet Jandu

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  14. Imran Ahmed

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  15. Andy Slaughter

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  16. Andrew Georgiou

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  17. Todd Foreman

    RT @HammersmithAndy: RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  18. Legal Action Group

    Clarke's legal aid axe cut our rights, not the deficit http://bit.ly/hNUTSL

  19. Legal Action Group

    Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit http://bit.ly/hNUTSL @leftfootfwd

  20. Higgins Miller

    RT @LegalActionGrp: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit http://bit.ly/hNUTSL @leftfootfwd

  21. PRO Legal

    Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: This week, the Justice Select Committee published its re… http://bit.ly/hAMCg3

  22. Daniel Pitt

    Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights, not the deficit http://t.co/rpuXeRs #ConDemNation

  23. @DaveySpeedstar

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit: http://bit.ly/dYijPW writes Karl Turner MP

  24. Lasa Charity

    RT @leftfootfwd: Clarke's legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit http://bit.ly/fWuqvX #legalaid

  25. Tory MP: People opposed to Legal Aid cuts are “irresponsible and unhelpful” | Left Foot Forward

    […] Clarke’s legal aid axe cuts our rights not the deficit – Karl Turner MP, March 31st […]

Leave a Reply