Cuts to legal advice slammed

GOVERNMENT plans to cut funding for free legal advice have been slammed by Dearne MP John Healey.

It is feared the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill could put Citizens Advice Bureaux, law centres and independent community access advice agencies across the country at risk.

Rotherham MPs John Healey, Kevin Barron and Denis MacShane recently met representatives from Rotherham’s advice agencies to discuss concerns about the impact of the government’s reforms.

Mr Healey said: “This is free help and advice with common problems like debt, housing, benefits and family issues.

“It helps protect disabled people, domestic violence victims and sufferers of industrial diseases – so these cuts will leave the most vulnerable without legal support when things go wrong.

“Help at this early stage actually saves more money than it costs. It stops cases spiralling into crises and catastrophic breakdowns in people’s lives, which end up creating huge costs for local authorities, the NHS and the government.”

The Legal Aid Bill is due back in the Commons on 17 April.

It has previously been defeated 11 times in the House of Lords.