Young Legal Aid Lawyers and the All Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid’s joint campaign #TakeYourMPToWork has seen MP’s across the country get up close and personal with the reality of legal aid provision.
Last week Kate Green, MP for Stretford and Urmston spent the day with GMLC learning about the effect of legal aid cuts in greater Manchester. Speaking with our staff who work day in day out on the legal aid frontline brought home the reality of advice deserts: we face a homelessness crisis, mass reliance on food banks and rising suicide rates. Drastic cuts to government funding for legal aid have left people unable to access early legal advice, without which people’s problems spiral, often into crisis.
GMLC housing solicitor Kathleen Cosgrove says, “Just as we would face a crisis in public health if you withdrew preventative medial services and limited access to GPs to those who were already at deaths door, so too we now face a homelessness crisis, mass reliance on food bank provision, and rising suicide rates for disabled people because people are denied access to early legal advice.
“It is now so difficult for Legal Aid solicitors to survive that they decide to or are forced to pack in. It is telling that a large proportion of the Legal Aid providers left in Greater Manchester are from the voluntary sector, surviving as a result of other charitable sources of funds”.
The support shown by MPs like Kate Green is another step in the right direction for the campaign against legal aid cuts: getting our political representatives to acknowledge the need for re-establishing funding for this crucial work that underpins a safe, fair and thriving society. We call upon our representatives to act on this to fight for real, financial support for law centres, and to reinstate legal aid.
Help spread the word by inviting your MP to your local law centre or legal advice clinic today.