In Parliament this week I called on Ministers to consider the quality of advice being offered by providers of unregulated legal advice which have filled the gap created by UK Government cuts to legal aid.
The Ministry of Justice today published a Post implementation review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
Speaking during today’s Government statement on the post-implementation review into Legal Aid, I said “One of the consequences of the Government’s deep legal aid cuts is the emergence of an unregulated legal advice sector which has stepped in to fill the gap. What work has the Government done to look at the quality of advice and redress in this sector?”
The Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke MP, responded by saying that there should be room for ‘innovation’ in the sector but that “we need to ensure that the unscrupulous are not able to take people down the wrong direction.”
£750m has been cut from the Legal Aid budget in the last 6 years. This has had a devastating impact on many of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. Under these circumstances it’s inevitable that alternative, unregulated sources of complementary legal advice would emerge, but people need assurances that this sector is legitimate and of suitable quality. The Justice Secretary’s response today was vague, and didn’t assure me that the Government is taking this issue seriously enough.