Plans to provide in-court advice centres are a welcome step forward, but don’t make up for the dismantling of the legal aid system, says Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
The Ministry of Justice has today announced funding for a network of in-court advice centres for people in the family and civil justice system to keep disputes away from court and provide better support to those who do end up in court.
The service is aimed at ‘plugging the gap’ following cuts to legal aid. Thousands of people are now no longer entitled to legal aid because of the changes, resulting is a rise in ‘litigants in person’, mainly in family court.
Speaking in the Guardian today family justice Minister Simon Hughes said the plans will help people going to court who don’t feel supported enough and need legal help.
Tony Lloyd said: “While I welcome this one step forward, it’s a shame the Government took two steps back in dismantling our legal aid system.
“Adequate representation is necessary to a properly functioning and fair court system. The cuts to legal aid threaten this and deprive the most vulnerable in our communities who need the protection of the courts and legal system the most.
“The announcement today is an attempt to plug the gap left by Government’s ill-thought out legal aid reforms when in reality ministers need to have a rethink to ensure people have access to legal help and enable fair justice to be served.”