Friday, March 1, 2013

The destruction of legal aid



Number 2: The destruction of legal aid
 Zak William Morris (Angry Essex Lad) explains some of the 
consequences of the impending cuts to legal aid. 
 

With the stampede of horse meat overflowing from your dinner plate, C-list celebrity paedophiles clawing at your windows and gays getting married on every street corner, you may be forgiven for not noticing that on the 1st of April 2013 the NHS as we know it will cease to exist. Its services will be dissected and auctioned off to the private sector, much like a botched backstreet amputation where the victim's profitable parts will be auctioned off to the highest bidder (IVF) and the less wanted debris (A&E) will be left to continue on its steady systematic decline.

Those of you who follow this site are fully aware of the heinous underhand way in which this government is putting these plans into action. However, you may not be aware of yet another malevolent act coming into force on the 1st of April 2013: The Sentencing And Punishing Of Offenders Act. An Act which will drastically reduce the scope of civil legal aid.

The government is seeking to make £350 million in cuts to legal aid, so who will be the most affected?
• Legal Aid will be cut from most areas of law including Divorce, Contact, Employment, Immigration, Housing, Debt, Benefits and Education.
• There will be no legal aid for fathers undergoing a separation. Those wishing to have full or partial custody of their children will have to represent themselves. This is known as ‘litigants in person’ and it will put even more strain on the legal system. Litigants who wish to act in person without the benefit of legal advice will not be familiar with the law, not know what is expected of them and not be as prepared. This will inevitably waste the courts' time and, ironically, result in a dramatic rise in average case costs. The only remaining option is to pay for legal advice, which many people simply can’t. This effectively sets justice as a premium for only those who can afford it. The turmoil of divorce, separation and custody will be a ‘luxury’ reserved for the rich. As a result of this thousands of children will, through no fault of their own, lose contact with one of their parents.

• As if the added strain on the legal system from people self-litigating wasn’t enough, the government are also looking to close 103 magistrates courts throughout the country and 54 county courts which equates to around a 40% cut in courts. Resulting in a loss of 15,000 jobs.

• Legal aid will only be available in family or civil proceedings when there is evidence of domestic violence, however along with the new legislation comes strict guidelines as to what can and cannot be presented as ‘documented evidence’. If the victim does not have either a medical report from a doctor who has examined them and officially stated that the injuries or conditions correspond with those of 'a victim of domestic violence' or a police report of domestic violence pertaining to the people involved, they will lose their right to claim legal assistance.

• Citizens advice bureaux and other legal advice centres are being forced to close due to the fact their main source of funding is being cut by this government. Those who manage to remain open will find themselves increasingly having to charge clients for their help.

• Legal aid for appeals and welfare benefits will also be cut. Leaving the unemployed and disabled without any financial help to appeal any decisions made by the department for work and pensions. The disabled make up 58% of those who receive legal aid for welfare benefit cases. This equates to 78,000 people each year who will be hit by the changes to the law.
In summation, the Sentencing Of Offenders Act is an offence in itself to the marrow of a civilised society. It savages the rights of those without the necessary income to achieve justice and safety within their own home, and it denies children their right to have a balanced relationship between a mother and a father.

Possibly most disturbing of all is the way this government seems to single out the weakest of society and chastise them for it, perhaps a remnant of their days in the Bullingdon club? – Not only have the disabled been subjected to untold amounts of undue stress with many Atos assessments resulting in suicide and depression, they are now being told that once a decision has been made in order for it to be overturned they will have to fund the legal proceedings from their own pocket. 

How can someone who has undergone assessment after assessment by people working under incentives to label them ‘fit for work’ afford to pay for costly legal fees? Logic dictates they wouldn’t have undergone the rigmarole of the process if they could afford to live above the breadline without the funding it offered, despite the fact they are entitled to it.

This government is constantly working with smoke, mirrors, levers and pulleys to distract the mass from its underhand agenda, which is to create a segregated dystopia where the bewildered herd scrap with one another, blame one another and fear one another. More so than ever we are being encouraged to care more about the price of everything as opposed to its value. This government is attempting to quantify quality of life and it’s starting with those who find it the most difficult to speak and be heard. How long before any voice of dissent will be devoid of volume unless it has corporate backers? By which time we will have cola flowing from our taps and privately owned and operated schools set up to breed division

About the author

Zak William Morris is a disenfranchised car sprayer from Essex. In his spare time he performs in a band, dabbles in poetry and photography and also enjoys a nice glass of red wine.


About Another Angry Voice 

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