Labour has pledged to provide free legal training for 200 social welfare lawyers and create a network of law centres to help “hard-hit” communities defend their rights and secure justice.
Labour will reverse all the Conservative cuts to legal aid-funded Early Legal Help within the first 100 days of a Jeremy Corbyn government.
Early Legal Help is the legal support that people receive prior to a lawyer representing them in the courts. It is the kind of advice that many desperately need when facing everyday problems such as flawed benefits decisions or rogue landlords.
Access to justice has been seriously undermined by the Tory and Liberal Democrats changes to legal aid, with hundreds of thousands of people unable to enforce their rights.
This form of legal aid will cover:- housing cases, family law, welfare benefits appeals, immigration cases, employment, debt, and mental health cases.
Legal aid for benefits cases was especially hard hit. Under the Tories, legal this sort of advice was cut by an eye-watering 99%. It was provided to 91,000 people in 2013 in England and Wales, (the year before the Conservative-led government’s legal aid reforms); but just 478 people received it by 2017.
A lack of early legal advice often creates extra costs for the taxpayer as cases go to court which could have been resolved earlier or spiral into costly social problems as people unnecessarily lose their homes or jobs.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights has said that cuts in legal aid meant many could no longer afford “to challenge benefit denials or reductions and are thus effectively deprived of their human right to a remedy.”
Richard Burgon MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said:
“The Tories have rigged the system against the people who need help the most, and in favour of a privileged few.
“Tory cuts to legal advice mean hundreds of thousands of people are unable to defend their hard-won rights. When that happens, equality before the law is a fiction, and without these protections people’s lives can often be torn apart.
“In restoring this legal support, Labour will help ensure people can challenge the discrimination and abuses of power that they too often face in their everyday lives”.
For more details:- https://labour.org.uk/press/labour-announces-plans-empower-communities-defend-rights-secure-justice/