Tag Archives: domestic violence

Tory legal aid cuts may have fatally undermined access to justice

legal Aid

Labour’s Sadiq Khan has admitted that he cannot find the cash to reverse the cuts to legal aid inflicted by Conservative Justice Secretary (and legal ignoramus) Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling.

Grayling has forced the legal aid budget down by £600 million, in the face of huge opposition from lawyers, making it much harder for people who don’t have huge amounts of money to defend themselves if accused of a crime. People who do have such funds – the abominably rich and career criminals – will, of course, be able to pay for their defence and escape justice.

In short, Grayling has ensured that criminals will go free while the innocent are jailed.

Sacked: Dominic Grieve's reservations about Legal Aid cuts put him at adds with the Coalition government; it seems his concern over a planned attack on human rights led to his sacking.

Sacked: Dominic Grieve’s reservations about Legal Aid cuts put him at adds with the Coalition government; it seems his concern over a planned attack on human rights led to his sacking.

He has also ensured that a future Labour government will not be able to undo the damage – at least, not immediately. Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan has said Labour could not reinstate the money cut from legal aid by Grayling, but he did say Labour intends to make it easier for victims of domestic violence to obtain support from a lawyer.

“I speak to lawyers who say they have clients who come in to see them, say they have suffered abuse and are told they have to provide evidence,” he told The Guardian.

“The clients often leave the office and never return. That worries me. So I’m looking at what we can do to tackle this. If there was one legal aid change to reverse, this would be the one.”

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Crisis fund scrapped as cabinet puts the weight on councils

If you were a councillor, would you choose to pay for an emergency fund for those hit by sudden problems - or for rubbish collection? That seems to be the choice the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are putting before councils.

If you were a councillor, would you choose to pay for an emergency fund for those hit by sudden problems – or for rubbish collection? That seems to be the choice the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are putting before councils.

George Osborne has had his way after all, in his bid to end funding for ‘local welfare assistance provision’ – the safety-net fund for people hit by floods, fire, domestic violence or a shortage of food or money.

But the way the decision has been described seems to have wrong-footed even campaigning organisation 38 Degrees.

Rather than continue the £170 million fund with money from central government, council’s are being asked to put money towards a (reduced) fund of £130 million – from their own reduced budgets.

It is therefore inaccurate for 38 Degrees to say “The government has set aside £130m for the emergency fund for people in crisis”. [1] Not only are they asking councils to stump up the money; they’ve left it up to councils whether they use it for that or not. So there’s still no certainty.

The announcement has caused considerable confusion – some think the news is good, some think it is bad. [2]

Already this year councils have had their budgets slashed. In 2015, some local authorities could be forced to cut vital services or have to choose between shutting a library or reducing weekly bin collections. [3]

So we can already look forward to more misery in the New Year, courtesy of – and don’t you forget it – the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats.

NOTES:
[1] Department for Communities and Local Government: Local Government Finance Settlement 2015-16:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/389113/Local_Government_Finance_Settlement_2015-16_-_Consultation.pdf
[2] The Children’s Society: Preservation of local welfare a welcome relief for families:
http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/news-and-blogs/press-releases/retention-of-local-welfare-assistance-a-welcome-relief-for-families
Child Poverty Action Group: Child Poverty Action Group criticises local welfare decision:
http://www.cpag.org.uk/content/child-poverty-action-group-criticises-local-welfare-decision
[3] Daily Mail: Anger as councils face funding cuts:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/pa/article-2879071/Councils-face-1-8-cut-funding.html

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Lower than vermin: Osborne plans end to crisis fund for the vulnerable

evilosborne

A safety-net fund for people hit by floods, fire, domestic violence or a shortage of food or money is to be axed if George Osborne has his way.

Local welfare assistance provision – a Coalition policy designed to provide help to tens of thousands of people on low incomes who are pitched into sudden difficulty – currently takes just £180 million from the national budget. This is a tiny amount compared with – for example – the £1.5 billion spent on Michael Gove’s ‘Free Schools’ vanity project.

It seems a plan has been put forward to keep the fund, at a lower level of just £70 million.

But The Guardian has reported that “Osborne had fought against a ‘tiny sliver’ of money going to some of the most vulnerable”.

Campaigning site 38 Degrees has launched an emergency petition for British people to tell Osborne this is a cut too far.

Spokesman David Babbs wrote to members: “Without this crucial safety net stricken families would be left penniless and without food. He could announce the cut later today – let’s try to stop him.

“As a proportion of government spending, the sums of money involved are pretty small. But this is about the kind of Britain we want to live in. Can it really be right to scrap emergency support for people hit by crisis? Do we really want to leave people in hardship to suffer? To rely on food banks? Or even worse, loan sharks?

“Osborne’s latest plan is a cut too far – even other government ministers are coming out against it. The Guardian is reporting that other ministers are feeling the pressure over ‘the unpopularity of welfare cuts and the rising use of food banks’. A huge public outcry, just as MPs are getting ready to go home for Christmas, could split the government further – and force Osborne to back down.

“If George Osborne manages to scrap this fund, people could be left with nowhere to turn.”

The petition is at https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/osborne-christmas-cuts

Please tell Osborne what you think of his plan to cut down the last safety net available to this country’s most vulnerable people.

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