Back in October all the serious case reviews for the Baby P case were published – you can get copies of everything from the article here.
Somewhat belatedly, I thought I’d blog a few thoughts.
I missed this when it came out last month, so sorry for the slightly old news. A friend who used to work in an advice centre has drawn it to my attention.
Back in November the Government launched a consultation document Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales.
They are proposing to abolish legal aid for welfare benefits appeals and housing advice amongst others. My initial reaction was “so what?” After all, how many people actually get to the point of formal legal action against their landlord or the social? Not many, so few people will be affected.
What I was missing is the Citizens Advice Bureau and pretty much every other friendly local advice centre are funded by legal aid contracts for just this work. The CAB will be reduced to a rump service staffed by volunteers and local advice services will probably close.
Now that sucks. Part of the role of housing support work is getting people to engage with advice services in the community, so they can resolve their problems independently of a support service. And I know of local advice agencies who’ve very much been apart of their community for decades.
Maybe local councils will replace the missing legal aid funding but somehow I doubt it, given their financial constraints. Whatever way you look at it the poorest are going to take a hammering.