Legal Aid Update – delayed implementation

For anyone who missed it, it seems that subject to Parliamentary approval of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, the Act is due to take effect 6 months later than originally planned.

As such, according to yesterday’s Ministeral statement by Kenneth Clarke   it is intended that it will now come into effect  in April 2013.  The relevant part of the statement reads

I would also like to inform the House that we intend, subject to parliamentary approval of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, to implement all of the legal aid reforms in April 2013. This will include the abolition of the Legal Services Commission under the Bill and the creation of the new agency in its place

The rationale for the delay is arises because the MOJ had basically not fully thought through the implications of the Bill (which cuts £2 million from Legal Aid budget) and had therefore underestimated the time needed for such significant changes arising from the £2 million

The Bill itself is due to be considered by the Committee in the House of Lords with scrutiny starting on 20 December 2011. We’ll have a wee bit more on this shortly.

Alternatives

In the light of the above, we’re just in the process of setting up our new telephone advice initiative for irregular migrants that we’ve been awarded charitable funding for – the hope is that we can to some limited extent contribute to plugging a gap in the hole left by cuts to legal aid funding.

We also aim through this scheme to create the first bank of information about irregular migrants in the UK with a view to feeding into our policy and campaigns work not just in this area, but in the wider field of immigration law and policy making more generally, given that these policies impact on irregularity in a big way. 

We hope to be up and running by Febuary 2012, but will have a lot more on this exciting initiative  in the coming weeks.

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About jcwi

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is a key campaigning voice in the field of immigration, asylum and nationality law and policy. It is completely independent from government funding, remaining entirely free from government influence. View all posts by jcwi

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