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Thousands facing eviction unrepresented as Legal Aid cuts bite

Our People - Anthea Cowles
20 December, 2016

“People on low incomes facing homelessness and eviction are struggling to get the local face-to-face advice they desperately need and are entitled to by law” states the latest Legal Action Group (LAG) report.

Legal aid is available to help anyone in danger of losing their home, yet thousands are being made homeless every year because they cannot find lawyers to help them resist eviction or challenge a local authority’s decision that they are not in priority need or challenge an intentionally homeless decision. This year alone, there has been an 18% decline in the number of challenges brought.

The cuts to legal aid introduced by the Government policy in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012, and poor hourly rates, have driven lawyers specialising in housing out of the market.

The latest figures published by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) showed an all-time high of 42,728 households in rented accommodation were forcibly removed from their homes last year. That number has risen by 53% since 2010 and is on the increase.

It is hoped that the campaign to raise awareness of the shortage of legal aid lawyers by The Law Society, will help tackle this crisis.

Watch this space for more updates.

Anthea Cowles is a solicitor working in the Housing/Landlord and Tenant and Wills, Trusts and Probate departments. She advises clients who are eligible to receive legal aid funding as well as privately paying clients.

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