The shadow justice minister has promised to commit a Labour government to reinstating legal aid for benefits appeals as soon as it takes power. Writing for the Guardian yesterday, Labour MP Richard Burgon wrote that out of all the cuts to legal aid, ‘the slashing of advice for ill and disabled people unfairly denied their benefits is one of the cruellest’. ‘It creates the shameful situation where people are first denied the financial support to which they are legally entitled and then must struggle through a complex appeal without legal advice, causing further stress and anxiety.’
Burgon said that legal support against benefits decisions had ‘fallen off a cliff edge – down 99% – at a time when people need it more than ever’. The number of granted legal aid in welfare benefits cases plummeted as a result of the 2013 LASPO cuts from 91,431 in the period between 2012-13 to only 478 cases in 2017-18.
Under the Tories there’s been a 99% fall in legal aid to challenge flawed benefit decisions. That creates unnecessary hardship.
Today I announced that a Labour government will restore this legal aid.
Our justice system will work for the many not the few. pic.twitter.com/2kY3Mdhdde
— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) December 4, 2018
Quoting the UN’s special rapporteur on poverty, whose damning assessment of the ‘dismantling of the social safety net’ included expressing concerns about the ‘gutting’ of legal aid as a result of the LASPO cuts. Philip Alston observed that many could not ‘afford to challenge benefit denials or reductions and are thus effectively deprived of their human right to a remedy’.
‘It is bad now but is set to become even worse under universal credit,’ wrote Burgon. ‘Yet when people do appeal benefits decisions, two-thirds of decisions are over-turned. That is why I am announcing today that the next Labour government will restored legal aid for making benefit appeals.
- Justcie Watch: LALY 2019 winners - 12th July 2019
- JusticeWatch: Running up the down escalator - 5th July 2019
- JusticeWatch: The MoJ’s ‘culture of refusal’ - 28th June 2019
- JusticeWatch: Growing ‘justice gap’ in discrimination cases - 21st June 2019
- JusticeWatch: Droughts and deserts - 14th June 2019
- JusticeWatch: #TakeYourMPtoWork - 7th June 2019
- JusticeWatch: LALYS 2019 shortlist announced - 31st May 2019
- JusticeWatch: Selling off the family silver - 17th May 2019
- JusticeWatch: New line up at the MoJ - 10th May 2019
- JusticeWatch: Last chance for the CPS - 3rd May 2019