In this election we are asking what commitments to Free Access to Justice candidates in all ten boroughs of Greater Manchester – Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan – are willing to make.
We have gathered these questions from our own members and supporters and will be making the results available. Come back to this website, follow us on Twitter or go to our Facebook page to find out about all our initiatives during this election period.
We look forward to hearing as many positive ideas as possible and working with elected representatives on the future of Free Access to Justice.
See below our question and we are asking you too to take some action.
Our questions to Greater Manchester constituency candidates
In the last few years, people have faced great hardship as a result of cuts in benefits, rising homelessness, uncertainties at work and escalating racism. Meanwhile legal aid, an essential part of the welfare state and the justice system, has been cut again and again.
People facing these problems may be able to pay for a lawyer, if they can find one. But those most in need are those most deprived of access to justice.
Greater Manchester Law Centre has been established recently to campaign for free legal advice and representation for everyone in need in the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester.
We know that people need walk-in, face to face, high quality legal advice and representation. This means people need a new generation of social welfare lawyers, who are not saddled with years of university debt.
We are fighting together with others for free access to justice and we need our representatives to have vision and commitment.
The following questions are being put to candidates:
1) If elected to the Westminster Parliament, would you vote for the restoration of legal aid, that has been severely cut and restricted by the Legal Aid, Sentencing, Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) and implemented by the Legal Aid Agency since?
2) Draconian sanctions have been imposed on benefit claimants. Would you be willing to speak and vote against these?
3) Benefit restrictions have particularly affected people with disabilities? Would you be willing to learn more about these and speak in Parliament about the hardships which they have caused to individuals in need?
4) Would you vote for improved and enforceable rights for tenants, in “social housing” and in private rented accommodation?
5) Would you vote to ensure that “immigration” was restored to the “scope” of legal aid, so that there would be effective legal advice and representation for people with human rights claims, people seeking to appeal against deportation and people seeking to be (re)united with their families from abroad?
6) Specifically, locally, would you be willing to use your voice to ensure the funding of free and accessible provision of legal advice and representation in your own constituency, whether through local or Greater Manchester services?
Please write to the candidates in your area to ask them these or your own questions about legal aid, welfare, housing and immigration. If you need contact details, please email us and let us know in which constancy/area you live in within Greater Manchester. Please share with us the answers you receive!