Will “advice deserts” be the result of the latest cuts in public funding?

According to a brand-new report published by the website illegal and the University of Warwick’s by Centre for Human Rights in Practice, the practical result of the latest cuts in divorce, family law and civil public funding (or legal aid as its better-known) will be areas of the country where the poor and vulnerable will find themselves unable to get free or affordable legal advice.

The report, which is the first published assessment of the effect that will result from the estimated £350m worth of cuts from the public funding budget, concludes that we will see “advice deserts” opening up nationwide.

More, 29% of the 670 civil and family lawyers and advisers who conducted publicly funded work and who took part in the report were worried about being made redundant. What’s more the report found that it was the most experienced family and civil lawyers who felt that they were most likely to be made redundant.

The report noted that although legal advice services appeared to be most concentrated in and the south-east and in London, it was actually the remaining part of the country that is likely to be most affected by these new legal aid cuts.

In response to the cuts, the Bar Council [the organisation representing barristers nationwide] is a document entitled “A Guide to Representing Yourself in Court “which contains advice to litigants in person [i.e. those people who represent themselves in court without a solicitor or barrister] on how to prepare their case – and which even includes practical details and advice on subjects as wide-ranging as how quickly to speak in court and what clothes to wear hearing in any hearing at court.