In response to the Ministry of Justice announcement today that reforms to legal aid will be postponed until April 2013, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“We’re very pleased to hear reforms to legal aid are being postponed until 2013, but remain concerned that if the Legal Aid Bill* is passed, some of the most vulnerable people in our society will still be left without access to justice.
”Allowing more time to ensure the new legal aid system is properly in place is all well and good, but this is no use to asylum seekers if they can no longer receive legal aid for important matters like withdrawal of support, family reunion, or unlawful detention. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work, so their only choices are to rely on publicly funded legal support, or to go without.
“We urge the government to use this extended period wisely to consider the Law Society’s alternative proposals to these cuts, and to consult with organisations working with vulnerable people who need access to justice the most.”
*The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill
Law Gazette: Ken Clarke postpones legal aid reforms and tendering