Legal aid cuts will hit the poorest says national union

Reforms to legal aid, which threaten the work of the Tower Hamlets Law Centre, will hit 100,000 of the most vulnerable people in society, according to the country’s biggest union.

The Unite union made their grim prediction concerning the coalition’s governments reforms ahead of a Justice for All rally at the House of Commons tomorrow.

The Ministry of Justice announced in November that legal aid could be denied for those seeking help in debt, education, employment, immigration, housing and social welfare.

Rachael Maskell, Unite’s officer for the not for profit sector, said wider cuts to local authority funding will mean people are more in need of legal aid services.

She said: “Because of the current austerity measures which will cause joblessness, repossession of homes and relationship breakdowns, everyone should have an interest in a strong legal aid system. It could, unfortunately, be ‘you’.

“For those legal advice services that survive these cuts, lawyers and advisors will be severely restricted because of cost constraints as to what they can offer in the way of support.”

Kathy Meade, housing benefits solicitor at the Tower Hamlets Law Centre in Whitechapel Road, will join the mass lobby at Parliament tomorrow.

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She told the East London Advertiser last week that the centre faces legal aid funding cuts of 92%.

She said groups including Island Advice, Citizen’s Advice and Toynbee Hall all face similar funding cuts while being expected to bridge the gap to help people who have been denied legal aid.

The Government says their plans will ‘tackle the spread of expensive and often unnecessary litigation into everyday society at the taxpayer’s expense and bring down the �2 billion plus cost of the legal aid system in England and Wales.’