The Housing Team has highlighted that legal aid cuts are creating an unnecessary risk of homelessness.
The Housing Team submissions to the Justice Select Committee's inquiry into the impact of changes to civil legal aid under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) were published by the Committee on Tuesday 13 May.
The purpose of the inquiry was to investigate the overall effects of the LASPO changes on access to justice. The key concerns set out in the Team's response are highlighted below:
- The lack of legal aid to assist with welfare benefits issues causes an unnecessary risk of homelessness
- The restriction of legal aid in disrepair cases condemns a proportion of tenants to live in squalor while their landlord evades their legal obligations. In certain cases this results in costs being shifted to local authorities in the form of increased applications for homelessness assistance. In addition, the rules on the funding of disrepair cases are difficult to operate in practice
- Firms are closing and practitioners are leaving the profession as a result of continuing cuts to legal aid, of which LASPO marked the start. This is leading to a reduction in the quality of service provided to clients
- Post-LASPO, the burden on the court system caused by litigants in person appears to be increasin
- The exceptional funding scheme is not operating effectively
Overall, the Housing Team aimed to highlight that the legal aid cuts are creating an unnecessary risk of homelessness.
More information about the inquiry itself is available here: New Inquiry: Impact of changes to civil legal aid under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.