Neil Coyle visited Southwark Law Centre this week to pledge his support for legal aid and help the team support people in Southwark struggling with Universal Credit and the EU settlement scheme.
July 30 marked the 70 years since Clement Attlee’s government established legal aid in 1949, to help people access justice whatever their financial circumstances.
In 2012, the coalition government cut legal aid funding and severely restricted what type of cases could access funded advice and representation in court.
Areas axed included most private family, employment, welfare benefits, housing, debt, clinical negligence, and non-asylum immigration law.
After concerns over a spiralling number of people forced to represent themselves in court, in July the Government announced it would hold a wholesale review.
“I see the consequences of these shocking cuts weekly in advice surgeries, with some families unable to resolve custody disputes, discrimination at work, and disabled people denied help challenging unfair benefits decisions,” Coyle said, praising Southwark Law Centre for “doing an incredible job”.
More than a third of people in the UK live in a local authority without housing legal aid providers.
Southwark Law Centre specialises in employment, housing, asylum and immigration and welfare rights law and receives funding from Southwark Council.