A report by the Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) has warned that one of the impacts of the legal aid cuts will be that MPs surgeries will become overwhelmed with the volume of requests for advice from people who would have relied upon publicly-funded legal advice prior to the changes.
The report predicts that in the absence of advice from legal aid firms and Law Centres people will increasingly turn to their local MP with constituency offices having to cope with complex legal issues which they are not equipped to handle.
The proposed cuts which are going through Parliament would leave many unable to benefit from state support for a number of legal disputes including immigration and debt cases.
MPs already carry out a significant amount of work on behalf of constituents in relation to legal disputes but the fear is that they will not have the resource or the expertise to deal with the increased burden which will result from the cuts.
The YLAL report states: “The areas of law that are to be removed from the scope of legal aid correspond closely with those areas for which constituents habitually turn to their MPs for assistance,”
The report adds: “MPs will be faced with more such issues if the cuts come in to force…there is a risk that MPs will struggle to deal with this burden and that constituents will lose out as a result.”
I hope this report will alert MPs to the extra burden that will be placed on them if the cuts get the go ahead.
By Stephensons’ Chairwoman, Ann Harrison