Law Centre for the Deaf to close

The UK’s first and only law centre for the Deaf will be closing its doors for good at the end of the month as a result of the ongoing cuts to legal aid.

According to the Royal Association for Deaf people (RAD), the funding cuts introduced by the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) last year have had a ‘profound effect on RAD Deaf Law Centre’.

The Deaf Law Centre – which was based in Newport, Wales – offered free advice on welfare benefits, employment, debt, housing, immigration and family matters to the Deaf community.

But having undertaken a review of the law centre, Rob Wilks, Director for Legal Services at RAD, has decided that it is no longer financially viable for the Deaf Law Centre to continue providing legal support to the Deaf community.

The law centre will cease operating on 28th February 2014.  It is the eighth law centre to close since LASPO slashed swathes of social welfare law from the legal aid budget last April.

Other law centres which have been forced to close at the hands of the cuts include Trafford Law Centre, Birmingham Law Centre, Harehills and Chapeltown Law Centre and Cross Street Law Centre in Kent.

Law Centres Network director Julie Bishop said: ‘RAD Deaf Law Centre was a welcome addition to our network and has done some fantastic work during its short existence, for a client group whose needs are often misunderstood.

‘It has now become a victim of government’s savage cuts to civil legal aid. Its closure is not just a step back for access to justice but a step back for equal rights and opportunities in the UK.’

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