Civil legal aid cuts mean three-fifths of Citizens Advice bureaux and law centres in London expect to have to make redundancies in the next six months as a result of changes to legal aid funding, new research shows.
Tim Clark, chief executive of Barnet Citizens Advice Bureau, surveyed 14 CABx and six law centres – representing half of London bureaux and a quarter of law centres in the capital – as part of an MSc course at Cass Business School.
His research found that 12 of those surveyed planned to make redundancies in the wake of changes to legal aid funding, which came into effect in April.
Of these, 11 specified how many. One organisation said its redundancy programme would affect less than one full-time equivalent role. Seven said there would be one to three full-time equivalent roles made redundant; and three said there would be three to five redundancies.
Clark said CABx in London had experienced a 72 per cent fall in funding for legal services since the changes were introduced.
To cope with losses in funding, the majority of the organisations surveyed said they were intending to use more volunteers. More than half said they were intending to deliver more telephone services and 80 per cent more web-based services.
Clark said that this situation was likely to be reflected elsewhere in the UK. "I think what’s happening in London is playing out in other big cities," he said.
He said that he knew of one example in which an organisation had not stated it was planning redundancies when he submitted his report in September, but had since done so.
He said his research indicated that law centres seemed to be the worst affected by the changes.