We will all pay for the raid on Legal Aid

lord bach

The House of Lords: The more one hears of the debates there, the more one is impressed by them.

One side of them, at least.

For example the debate on the Benefits Uprating Bill, that took place on Tuesday, including a fascinating interlude by Lord Bach, in which he made explicit the meaning of the government’s planned withdrawal of Legal Aid for benefit claimants.

The government claims the intention is to save money, but Lord Bach (pictured) made it perfectly clear that there will be no saving at all, in the end.

One is left with the only possible alternative – that this vindictive government of millionaires intends to make it impossible for the poorest and most vulnerable in society to seek legal redress against cruel and unwarranted decisions that will withdraw from them the money they use to keep themselves a hairs-breadth away from destitution.

It is a decision to attack the poor for the fun of it.

Don’t take it from me; here’s how Lord Bach put it:

“What is so often left out of the arguments about welfare reform… is what potential real remedy the citizen will be left with if the department’s [of Work and Pensions] decision is wrong. Surely the fact that it is wrong in many cases is not in question. We all know that, with the best will in the world, decisions made by the department are often wrong and very much to the disadvantage of those who want to claim them.

“For a long time, this has not been a pressing problem. For those requiring legal advice on their benefit entitlements, Legal Aid has been available – if, of course, these people came within the criteria for Legal Aid, and many did.

“For a small amount of Legal Aid, quality advice has been available, having the effect of both stopping – this is important in cost terms – hopeless claims and establishing good claims where appropriate. It is a system that worked. Putting it at its highest, it has allowed access to justice for all.

“At a slightly lower level, it has meant that tribunals have not been faced with an impossibly large number of cases, many of which should never have been brought in the first place.

“It has cost a fraction of the total Legal Aid budget and is paid to lawyers who are not by any standards well paid. Yet from April 1, as a deliberate act of government policy, this legal help will no longer be available for anyone in cases relating to welfare benefit entitlements.

“Thus, people will not be able to get the advice to which they are entitled. Their access to justice will be gone. The department will get away with wrong decisions and tribunals will be overburdened with what I can only describe as rubbish cases – all to save £25 million per year on welfare benefit advice.

That is one-tenth – I repeat, one-tenth – of the amount set aside by the Department for Communities and Local Government so that there can be weekly rather than fortnightly collections of rubbish. Is this really a proper sense of priorities for a time of austerity?

“Further, everyone who knows anything about this agrees that this is not likely to be a saving at all in the end.

“The state… will eventually have to pick up the pieces when things get much worse than they need to. How can the Minister or any government justify this either in terms of common decency, which should appeal to this House and normally does, or even under the rule of law?”

We all thought the Tories would be left heartbroken after the Hunting Act took away their favourite extracurricular pastime.

It seems they have found another blood sport to replace it.

19 thoughts on “We will all pay for the raid on Legal Aid

  1. J Bailey

    Lord Bach, thank you for your continued support, it is much appreciated by all of us who are facing the governments austerity measures which I am sorry to say, do not appear to apply to themselves. I am currently facing assessment for Income Support which I have been receiving for 8 years and, later this year I will be reassessed for DLA which I have been receiving for just 4 years. ATOS have been carrying out my assessments every year and have appeared to have no problem with the evidence I provide of my disabilities. If they now find that I will receive the “ATOS cure” does that mean by definition that they have been in error about my health and if so, should they not face prosecution for malpractice?

    1. Philhow

      ATOS are now advising the DOJ so get the feeling they may have your case covered. We are now under a two pronged attack. our own government and the people in control ATOS…

      1. Deano

        We always have been.Though it is disconcerting to hear Atos are ‘advising’ the DoJ, though how in hells name an IT company could offer advice of any worth to a Dept of Justice is beyond my comprehension.

  2. Joanna Terry

    I know this is not much comfort but if it is possible for people to join a Union then this will afford them some protection. It doesn’t cost very much at all, a couple of pounds a month to be covered with their legal services. I have joined Unite as they are accepting the unwaged, purely for protection, others may find it possible to re-join any they used to subscribe to, Its worth investigating. I know our precious income should not have to be spent like this and am disgusted that I have had to do this.

  3. Bill Kruse

    Something which doesn’t seem to have been considered when assessing the cost to the state and society is that the government have blocked not only legal aid in regard to benefits claims but they’ve blocked access to tribunals too. What makes anyone think there’ll be any? I can see them allowing a token few to get to the tribunal stage so they can cite them as evidence that all is now well. The rest? They’ll never get past the reconsideration stage.

  4. Fedupof Scroungers

    What a load of tosh. About time people paid for what they use. Wouldn’t it be nice if for once, rather than moaning and moaning, people on benefits said a big “thank you” to all those hardworking people who pay for all this stuff!!

    1. Mike Sivier

      People on benefits are hardworking people too. How many of them are hardworking people who had jobs until recently but lost them because of the economic downturn and this government’s complete kack-handed failure to understand how to handle the problem? How many of them are hardworking people who, through no fault of their own, came down with long-term illnesses or work-related injuries and had to leave their jobs? How many of them are in work at the moment, doing jobs that don’t pay a living wage because their bosses are greedy? Those are just a few examples.

      Also don’t forget that we all pay indirect taxes, no matter whether we’re on benefits or not.

      In other words, people on benefits either have in the past, or are currently, paying for these services they use.

      If you’re really fed up of scroungers, as your pseudonym suggests, you must properly hate the government and the executive class they represent, who cream as much money as they can from the hard-working, honest people of this country while doing as little work of their own as they can possibly get away with.

      1. Fedupof Scroungers

        I love this government, they are the ones who are telling the truth, shame the other parties tell lies and promise the earth, of course they’ll never be able to do that but some brainless morons will believe anything as long as someone promises a few extra bob (for free) in their pockets.
        Remember, firstly, there is a world economic downturn (which the last govt didn’t manage too well, just spent more and more), secondly, everyone in this country is rich relative to most of the world population, it’s all relative.
        So let’s stop blaming everyone else, especially the so called rich, they didn’t cause this mess and at least they got off their ares and went out to work.

      2. Bill Kruse

        Scroungers… there are people living in vast mansions on estates of millions of rolling acres who don’t pay a penny for them – we do. They’re the descendants of the Normans and they still have the lands they stole by force. They live on grants, subsidies (rents, in other words) which we pay for thorugh our taxes. Billions of pounds. Our taxes. You want to have a go at scroungers, go moan at them.

  5. Thomas M

    Taking away legal aid will mean the courts having to deal with a vast amount of litigants in person who know very little about the law.

  6. tony


    Breaches of Regs 29 and 35 of the ESA regulations 2008 stating that risk to appellant and public must be assessed and taken into account of the risk of exacerbating or inflicting their conditions to deteriorate. This is law made by the Goverment,yet it appears the laws everyone else has to adhere to can be ignored by those who are unable to understand our English language who govern us.

    If anyone,has a fall, accident anything, during travelling to WRAG ,ATOS medical or job interview arranged by DWP and you hurt yourself or members of public, find a no blame no claim solicitor and sue the shit out of them,tn of been there if they hadn’t forced you to attend.his includes mental health related issues, ie, causing disturbance in a public arena, ie police being called out to you in a job center, this is evidence of breaches Regs 29b as you would not of attended had they not forced you there

    1. Jack Johnson

      Excellent stuff, let’s hope we start hearing of cases!
      Sorry to hear about John O’ only comming forth but he’s made a start in
      the constituency with 20’000 contacts. Onwards and upwards! It was
      delightful that the Scum only came third.

  7. Ant Lea

    Yes fed up with scroungers, lets give a visually impaired bloke to drive a bus, yeah gonna save government billions, yet lets get the paraplegic bloke injured in Afghanistan a rag so they can wipe your evil small minded ass , what a bell end

  8. Phil The Folk

    Well said Bill Kruse! I told Labour HQ, the next time they hear something said about the” something for nothing society” by the Tories, they should tell them to look at thier front bench, because none of them have ever held down a proper job and they have inherited all their wealth, that’s the something for nothing society that need dealing with! And if Fedupodscroungers had a brain cell in would be bloody lonely!

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