Next APPG on 3 Sept
The next meeting of the All Party Group on Legal Aid will be on Wednesday 3 September 2014 at 8.30–10 am in the Jubilee Room at Parliament. The subject of the meeting is “Where to turn now for legal advice? Assisting constituents after the cuts to legal aid”. We will be joined by a number of speakers who will discuss the effects of the cuts. There will also be discussion of the Government’s ongoing programme of reforms. This is intended as a drop-in event. A light breakfast of teas, coffees and pastries will be provided.
Spaces at this event will be limited, so please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your place!
We would also be grateful if you could email your MP to invite him/her to attend. Below is a template email for you to edit. Remember to put your name and address at the bottom, and delete the paragraph where indicated if your MP is not Labour.
Don’t know your MP’s contact details? You can email them via the Write to Them site here.
Dear [NAME OF MP],
I write as your constituent and as a member of Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) to invite you to a breakfast meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Legal Aid on Wednesday 3 September 2014 at 8.30-10 am in the Jubilee Room in the Houses of Parliament.
The subject of the meeting is “Where to turn now for legal advice? Assisting constituents after the cuts to legal aid”. This is important to me because I am worried people are no longer able to find the help they need for complicated problems in areas like benefits, employment and immigration.
Last year, YLAL carried out a survey with MPs and caseworkers following the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012 coming into force on 1 April 2013. YLAL’s report “Nowhere else to turn: one year on” reached three main findings:
(i) There has been a growth in demand for advice in areas affected by LASPO: eighty six per cent of respondents reported an increase in demand for advice since 1 April 2013. This increase in demand for advice and assistance, particularly in certain areas, has placed an increased burden on MPs and their caseworkers.
(ii) There are increased difficulties in referring constituents to local advice providers: over 50% of respondents indicated that they had experienced difficulties in locating advice services to which they could refer constituents since our 2011 research.
(iii) MPs are concerned about the future: a significant proportion of respondents expressed concern about the changes to legal aid and how they might affect their constituents and the work of MPs and caseworkers in the future.
You can read the full report here and our report from similar research in 2011 here.
A year has passed since our last survey and we would like to know if anything has changed. At the APPG on 3 September 2014, we will be joined by a number of speakers who will discuss the effects of LASPO and the more recent cuts to legal aid on MPs. There will also be discussion of the Government’s planned future reforms to legal aid. A briefing prepared by YLAL and the Legal Aid Practitioners Group will be provided shortly.
I would be very grateful if you could attend to share your experience of the impact of advice cuts in our constituency since April 2013. For example, have your staff noticed any change in the ability of local advice services to take referrals, has there been a change in the type or number of advice queries you receive, and if so, have you changed the way you deal with the advice needs of constituents?
The APPG is intended as a drop-in event. A light breakfast of teas, coffees and pastries will be provided. It would be very helpful if you could email email@example.com if you are able to attend. If you are unable to attend but have any comments on this issue please let me know and I can pass them on to the organisers.
[DELETE IF NOT APPLICABLE – FOR LABOUR MPs ONLY] Lastly, I would also like to ask you to attend a public meeting during the Labour party conference on Tuesday 23 September, from 5 pm at the Cross Street Chapel, Manchester M2 1NL to discuss the future of free legal advice. This is organised by Justice Alliance North and Access to Advice. There will be speakers including Andy Slaughter MP and participants from local community groups. For more information or to confirm you can attend please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for taking the time to read this email.