What changes is the Government making to the legal aid scheme?
The legal aid sector has been starved of investment for years, and more and more solicitors are considering stopping legal aid work. The Government is now seeking to make further savings and to introduce an unfair market-based system.
What will this mean for charities and their users?
It will cause further reductions in provision, which could lead to significant additional demands on charities - especially those tackling social exclusion.
Because legal aid solicitors play a vital role in helping the most vulnerable people in society when they are facing difficulties. If not dealt with early, problems with housing, family, employment or minor criminal acts can snowball. Those people will then turn to the voluntary sector for help with serious difficulties that might have been avoided with a little legal help at the right time.
What have you been doing to highlight the challenges?
We have been working with charities including Shelter, Mind and the Child Poverty Action Group to raise awareness of the importance of legal aid as a vital public service.
What's the timetable for the planned reforms?
There will be a rolling programme, which will start in April this year.