Make legal aid available for people who cannot afford a lawyer
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New research shows 78% of people agree that justice is as important as health and education, and 76% agree that people on low incomes should be able to get free legal advice.
But since 2013, legal aid is not available for anyone for a wide range of life-changing problems, including family breakdowns, unfair dismissal, loss of welfare benefits, and almost all medical accidents.
For what’s left, the financial “means test” to get support leaves people on below average earnings fighting their legal problems alone. For example, if you earn over £22,325 a year and you are prosecuted for a crime you did not commit, you probably have to pay towards your own defence, and may not get that money back even if you are found not guilty.
This all means that more and more people are tackling complex legal problems without the help of a legal professional. This can lead to injustice when people representing themselves face those with large, well-resourced legal teams and it means that the taxpayer is paying for delays in our courts and for the knock on costs of people’s unresolved legal problems.
In a civilised society that prides itself on fairness, the ability to enforce your legal rights – and to defend yourself – should not depend on your wealth.
The Government is currently reviewing the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act. We believe this provides a great opportunity to ensure that those most in need receive free legal advice.
Stand up for fairness. Please sign this petition to call on the Government to extend the availability of legal aid to ensure that people on low incomes can access justice.
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