FROM April 2013 legal aid advice will be abolished for the majority of welfare benefit, employment, debt and housing issues, impacting severely on bureau funding.
Local charity Thurrock citizens advice bureau is concerned about the impact this will have on its ability to help local people with complex problems.
Mike Rawlings, chief officer of Thurrock CAB said:
‘The Government’s decision to remove legal aid advice has unfortunately led to three staff being issued with redundancy notices. We are awaiting decisions on other funding streams and hope that if successful some of our staff will be retained in other roles. We are supporting affected staff through this difficult time. It will also lead to the closure of our outreach services through out the borough; people can still get general advice from our office in GRAYS.’
“We’re very concerned that while we hope to retain these highly trained advisers, they will not be doing the specialist advice work helping people with complex debt, welfare benefits and housing problems because the funding for this type of help has been wiped out.
“That means that 14,000 people in East region won’t have access to free specialist support from their local CAB for things like challenging unfair dismissal and appealing against benefit decisions. This is particularly worrying given the current shake up of the benefit system means more and more people will need our help’
“These legal aid cuts will create a justice gap between those who can afford to pay for legal advice and those who can’t with the poor unable to challenge refusal of benefits, dismissal at work or sort out unmanageable debt.