Briefing: Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill 2nd reading

By: Anne Baxendale  Published: June 2011


The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will impose devastating cuts on legal aid funding for specialist advice to help people solve their housing, debt and welfare benefits problems at an early stage so that they less likely to develop into expensive court proceedings. For the sake of saving just £49m, huge knock-on costs will be generated by these cuts.

Summary

Despite receiving some 5,000 responses to its recent consultation, the majority of which opposed the changes, the Government is putting forward its original proposals virtually unchanged. Although there have been some minor concessions, overall this part of the bill will have an even more devastating impact than the Government originally predicted with 595,000 cases cut from the scope of legal aid (as opposed to 502,000 in the original proposals). Legal aid for social welfare issues only constitutes 5% of the total legal aid budget but is being disproportionately hit, losing over a third of its budget.

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