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Monday, 1 April 2013

Demolition of the Welfare State in the UK - Attack on Legal Aid system !

In 2013 yet again under the Conservative Party along with the help of the Liberal Democrats have set in motion the ideological war against another pillar of the Welfare State.

Legal aid in its current form was created by the Legal Advice and Assistance Act 1949, part of a sweeping programme of social reforms ushered in by the post-war Labour Government.

In this context, the 1949 Act was almost as fundamental a step towards social
justice as the introduction of state-backed healthcare and reflected the spirit of the Clement Attlee  administration's creation of the welfare state.

By the 1980s the political climate under the Conservatives in government had become less friendly to legal aid.

In 1986, the Legal Aid Board was set up to take over the administration of publicly-funded legal services from the Law Society.

The changes coming into force today (Monday 1st April) see public funding removed from entire areas of civil law, including some family cases.

The Law Society, which represents solicitors has issued dire warning regarding today's attack. Barristers have also expressed concern.

Areas which will no longer qualify for funding include family cases where couples are divorcing and sorting out living arrangements for their children, unless there is proven domestic violence.

Advice on employment and education law; personal injury and some clinical negligence cases; immigration where the person is not detained; and debt and housing problems will also no longer qualify.

The Law Society says "people could start taking the law into their own hands as a result of an inability to seek justice following the government's civil legal aid cuts".

Group member of Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants - Mark McGowan interviews John Cooper QC regarding the Conservatives attack on Legal Aid.

Cruel & vindictive government welfare cuts that come into force today will heap even more misery on Britain's poorest. The Conservatives & Liberal Democrats assault will hit millions of families, with low-paid workers, the unemployed and disabled people bearing the brunt.

The tax and benefit changes will leave families nearly £900 worse off on average according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Meanwhile David Cameron and George Osborne are giving millionaires an average £100,000 tax cut."

The bedroom tax, changes to council tax benefit and the replacement of the disability living allowance will all have a devastating effect. It will disproportionately hit disabled people.

UK's poorest households face a bleak April as they struggle to budget for all these cuts coming at once. People are already cutting back on the essentials of food and heating but there is only so much they can do.

The result will be misery - cold rooms, longer queues at food banks, broken families, missed rent payments and yet more people facing homelessness - devastating for those directly affected, but bad for us all.


Low income households will be struck by a multitude of government cuts starting from TODAY, totalling more than £2.3 billion. The figures below represents how much will be cut from support for low income households compared to last year.

** Bedroom tax £490m

Council tax benefit localised and devolved budgets cut by 10 percent £485m
Local housing allowance annual uprate at CPI (instead of RPI) £90m

** Benefit cap introduced £290m

Tax credit disregard for in-year increases reduced to £5,000 £455m
Working age benefits and tax credits: uprating capped at one percent £505m

Total losses: £2,315m

Respect For the Unemployed & Benefit Claimants
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copy to: Law Society The Law Society of Scotland Human Rights Law Centre Legal Centre EAPN - European Anti Poverty Network .
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