It is good to see an editorial piece in today’s The Observer dedicated to the government’s proposals to ‘transform’ legal aid. The editor calls the proposals ‘unacceptable’ and highlights concerns that standards in legal representation will be driven down, and that the most vulnerable will be affected.
Opposition to government plans
The article notes the strong and unified opposition that the government’s proposals have received from the legal profession since they were announced on 9th April 2013. The Bar Council, the Law Society, magistrates, senior judges, leading barristers – including those who act for government departments – and solicitors have all heavily criticised the proposals. But so too have major charities, faith groups and academics. Amnesty International, Shelter, Liberty, The Children’s Society, Kids Company, Reprieve, MIND, Caritas, The Church of England, The Cardinal Hume Centre, the Jesuit Refugee Service, to mention but a few have all called on the government to reconsider the proposals.
Keeping the pressure on
The proposed reforms have received a relatively large amount of attention in the national media this week, with articles in The Guardian, The Times, The Mail on Sunday, The Independent, as well as coverage on Channel 4 News, and the BBC, largely due to the closing of the consultation, and the many protests organised across the country to coincide with it. The important thing now is to raise awareness about it amongst the public, maintain media attention on the issue, and to keep building the pressure on the government to rethink its plans.