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Legal Aid Cuts - Family & Social Welfare Law

 

Jonathan Djanogly: Minister for legal aid - Family Law scope cuts

 In a BBC Radio 4 interview yesterday the Minister made clear his wish to remove public funding from most residence and contact disputes and to promote parenting classes and mediation instead of court cases.

 

One wonders therefore whether there will be a radical cut in the fundamental review with the removal of all private family law from scope.

 

It may be that only Public Law Care work will remain in scope.

 

One assumes that domestic abuse cases will be excluded from the legal aid cuts.

 

Social Welfare Law advice (HOUSING, DEBT and WELFARE BENEFITS) also may not escape a reduction in scope.

 

Where will this leave the Not-for-Profit sector who the LSC have encouraged to bid for Legal Aid Contracts. Also what of CLANs? Surely we will not see them emerge if private family legal aid is removed or reduced and face to face social welfare law.

 

Perhaps there will be a return to Local Authority funding being the core funding for social welfare advice supported by project specific funding.

 

If these changes are to be implemented quickly, as seems likely, it really further calls into question the rationale behind the recent Civil Tender.

 

Some stability for say 3-4 years is required so that Solicitors can plan and obtain investment funding.

 

The strategic uncertainty may cause the collapse of the supplier base given that it is already fragile from a profit perspective.

 

What bank in the 2010 economic environment would lend to a practice in such circumstances?

 

The holistic integrated service which was fundamental to the idea behind the Community Legal Service seems to be about to be abandoned.

 

We may see a move to telephone and online advice in the interests of cost saving.

 

Like the local post office, local legal aid service may soon become a thing of the past.