The cuts in legal aid and other national and local government funding have caused a massive crisis in legal advice all over the country. Ironically as Suffolk was poorly served by legal aid provision and with no law centre, it is been less noticeable. But we have lost the specialist advisors at CABx and finding specialists in subjects such as housing, education and public law is practically impossible.
So funded by a national group National Coalition for Independent Action last year we held a small conference in Ipswich called Life after Legal Aid in Suffolk. It led to the setting up of a small steering group (which we affectionately known as LALA) and are working to understand and improve access to free and low cost legal advice in Suffolk. Members include local solicitors, CAB staff, those from other voluntary organisations and interested members of the public. Do join us if you are interested!
To date we have secured some funding for our Law Advice Centre in Ipswich and we are working on a Suffolk wide survey of law firms to ascertain what free and low cost work they are doing. It is early days and we need to secure further funding.
Our dream is to establish a Suffolk wide law centre, helping and complimenting CABx’s fine work and ensuring justice is not like the Ritz hotel – only available for those who can pay.