Bar Council publishes report on civil legal aid
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Marc Bloomfield
A report from The Bar Council has found that while the civil Bar is ‘still deeply committed to the social principles of justice for all’, its members are tired of ‘being continually taken for granted’ by the government.
Running on empty (January 2021) is based on interviews with a representative sample of the profession that consisted of 16 civil legal aid barristers and clerks. The interviews took place between July and September 2020. The report reaffirms The Bar Council’s call for a targeted reintroduction of civil legal aid, for example in areas of law such as early advice on welfare benefits.
One interviewee, a junior housing practitioner from Leeds, explained that the loss of welfare benefits advice due to cuts under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 had put a strain on housing advisers as so many clients ‘had welfare benefit problems which had led to the housing problems’ (page 10). She said: ‘You can’t deal with someone’s housing problem if you can’t deal with their welfare benefit problem or their employment problem or their immigration problem.’

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A national, independent charity, promoting equal access to justice for all members of society who are socially, economically or otherwise...