Law Centres have announced their strong opposition to government plans for introducing fees for people who want to challenge their benefit decisions.
The plans were revealed in a leaked document from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), seen by the Guardian. When asked to comment on the plans, legal aid minister Shailesh Vara MP said simply that "reducing the deficit is our top priority."
In response, Nimrod Ben-Cnaan, head of policy at Law Centres Network said:
"The government repeatedly says that its priority is to reduce the deficit; we are concerned that to this end it is willing to create a deficit of accountability by effectively removing people’s ability to challenge errors."
Pamela Fitzpatrick, director of Harrow Law Centre and vice-chair of the Law Centres Network, said:
"Charging for benefit tribunals shows a frightening degree of contempt for people in poverty – matched only by the government’s determination to deny access to justice to ordinary people."