11:49, July 30 58 0 theguardian.com

2019-07-30 11:49:04
Legal aid cuts deny the poor of justice

Your articles “Top judge in charity appeal for people who can’t fund lawyers” and “Deep poverty: 4.5m people in UK at least 50% below breadline” (both 29 July) are a page apart but deeply interconnected.

Not only are people on low incomes experiencing the full impact of austerity cuts, they are increasingly excluded from enforcing what rights they have through the courts.

The advice sector provides help for people with limited means, but cuts have hit us hard too. Poverty does not just mean lack of money, but exclusion from those processes that bind us together as citizens. We need to understand these separate challenges as the same issue.

Lindsey Poole

Director, Advice Services Alliance

Both Lady Hale, the UK’s senior judge, and Sir James Munby, the former most senior family court judge, have expressed concerns about the lack of access to justice for those involved in civil cases who cannot afford a lawyer.

The fact that such high-profile judges should highlight the impact of the 80% reduction in legal aid since 2012 correlates with Amnesty’s 2016 report which states that “cuts to legal aid have decimated access to justice for thousands of people”. Those seeking to access court processes through self-representation usually learn that this is a stressful and difficult process and many are driven into debt to fund lawyers and legal advisers.

Lady Hale’s appeal for public donations towards the Personal Support Service is very worthy but once again charity is expected to compensate for the government’s punitive austerity measures.

Access to justice and a fair hearing for all citizens should be a government priority and this must be enshrined in law.

Norma Hornby

Warrington, Cheshire

Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition

Topics