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Legal Aid cuts leave people feeling stressed, powerless and unable to get on with life
Published: 26 Oct 2015
People who are denied access to Legal Aid are left feeling stressed, powerless and unable to get on with life, according to a new report by Toynbee Hall and Middlesex University.
Sleepless nights: accessing justice without Legal Aid examines the impact of Legal Aid cuts on the lives of Londoners who don’t have the means to pay for legal advice and representation.
The report shows Legal Aid cuts have direct and indirect costs to individuals, their families and society as a whole; with 78% of respondents experiencing high levels of anxiety.
Many participants reported there is an imbalance of power especially in cases where the other party is represented and they are not.
They also reported they find themselves less equipped to function as a parent and in work. This has a negative impact on their children and family, and is compounded by the legal process taking longer than necessary.
In their journey of seeking justice, participants emphasised that providers of free legal advice services are not just a lawyer but also viewed as a ‘friend and counsellor’. Over half (61%) of the respondents consider free legal advice services as their main support to confide their worries in. Both Toynbee Hall and Middlesex University offer free legal advice services which deliver invaluable services to our communities.
We are calling for the reintroduction of Legal Aid for housing, family and employment matters, with a fresh look at means testing and eligibility. More funding needs to be put into place for free legal advice services which provide a life line for people who do not have the means to pay for legal advice and representation. In addition, more emotional support should be provided for people experiencing anxiety and distress.”
Graham Fisher, Chief Executive of Toynbee Hall
The effective lack of affordable access to justice is jeopardising the rule of law. This is having a knock-on effect on people's employment rights, welfare rights, housing rights and more. The most vulnerable people in society are being affected disproportionately".
Dr Alessio D’Angelo, Middlesex University
Find out more
The report will be launched on 9 November at a seminar hosted by Toynbee Hall and Middlesex University and sponsored by the Social Policy Association.
The seminar will invite service providers, academics and other interested parties to discuss the impact of Legal Aid and other cuts on different groups and communities and to help identify possible solutions to this access to justice crisis.
When and where
Monday 9 November
Linklaters LLP (Auditorium)
1 Silk Street
London, EC2Y 8HQ
Full programme & booking
Find out more about our Free Legal Advice Centre