I urge readers to help legal aid practitioners by writing to Lord Bach along the lines of my own recent letter to him, which followed a Gazettenews item on 20 October: ‘We are a "high street legal aid practice" whose very existence is seriously threatened by the 10% cuts in rates of remuneration.
I thank you for your involvement in the call for annulment of the statutory instrument which would effect the cuts, the impact of which would fall entirely on the minority of solicitors’ practices that have over recent years striven to continue to provide basic legal services to the poorest members of the community.
The impact of the cuts will immediately fall on the employees of legal aid practices. Many of them will be made redundant, because the 10% cuts will translate to that amount of reduction in gross revenue to the firms concerned. Since net profits from legal aid have amounted to less than 10% for some years, it means that firms that persist in doing this work must do so at a loss. Already this typical high street legal aid firm has reduced its case-working staff by an eighth and the redundancy of another individual is likely.
There are other consequences.
For instance, if single or separated mothers have legal problems concerning their children (and usually there are single fathers who have reciprocal problems), this affects the fabric of family life throughout the nation. The same cannot of course be said of criminal work, but similar considerations often apply.
Please continue to give this cause your full support.’
D M Phillips ,Phillips & Co, Salisbury