7 July 2014
What: Labour peer Lord Bach tells the House of Lords that the removal of legal aid in welfare benefit cases (following the government’s LASPO reforms) has had a “devastating” impact. He says that the government know that the effect on social welfare law advice has been devastating. In the year 2013-14 alone—this is from the government’s own figures—there was an 80 per cent fall in the number of social welfare law cases, including a figure of 45 per cent in housing cases. These cuts affect the poorest and most vulnerable, including many disabled people, in our society. Are the Government to some extent ashamed of the removal of access to justice from hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens, all caused by deliberate coalition government policy?” Justice minister Lord Faulks replies: “The noble Lord mentioned housing. In fact, legal aid remains available for eviction and possession cases, housing disrepairs, where there is a serious risk to health or safety, homelessness assistance and all debt matters which may represent a threat to somebody’s home. As to the cuts in legal aid, they are concentrated on matters where the government, after careful consideration, have decided that having a lawyer is not always the answer.”
Why significant: An opposition peer highlighting the impact of the legal aid cuts on disabled benefit claimants.