Publicity about the end of Legal Aid for certain types of cases seems to be being misunderstood by clients in need of help.
There is no problem with ongoing funding for cases which have Legal Aid Certificates at present. Neither is there any problem with funding continuing where clients have signed Legal Help Forms at present. Everyone with funding can continue with their case under that funding until the case concludes.
It is troubling that there is an apparent perception created by some things in the media that Legal Aid is ending even where people are in the middle of cases and need ongoing help. Unnecessary concern is being caused.
Although the range of Legal Aid Funding has regrettably been reduced considerably, Legal Aid is not yet dead. Not for ongoing cases. Neither for all new ones.
In the housing field, thankfully the majority of landlord and tenant cases remain able to be funded. Possession proceedings, antisocial behaviour, homelessness and the more severe housing disrepair cases all remain within Legal Aid scope. Although that does mean a range of housing cases are no longer in scope, the most significant ones causing the most concern to tenants can still be pursued and help provided.
The most disappointing omission is that essentially mortgage cases only remain within telephone advice. There is a tiny volume of face to face provision available which will be of use to only a very small minority of people with mortgage problems. Realistic private fees will have to be found for advice for anyone not seeking to rely on duty advisors at court on the possession hearing date.
Although most other areas of work have faired much worse, there is still Legal Aid in employment and consumer law cases where there is discrimination and there is still funding in family cases for children and financial cases where there has been domestic abuse, for injunctions and care proceedings. Some areas of work such as Community Care and Police Complaints remain unchanged.
It is important that Legal Aid is utilised where it can be. It will be interesting to see the effect of people now out of scope of Legal Aid for their problems contacting MPs and Councillors for help!