The Law Centres Network has today welcomed the Child Rights Impact Assessment of the cuts to civil legal aid, published last week by the Office of the Children's Commissioner.
The report highlights the 'vastly underestimated' impact of legal aid changes on children. It has prompted justice minister Simon Hughes MP to call for an urgent review of the cuts by the Ministry of Justice. He has commented that, "We have had to make difficult decisions to protect legal aid for the long term but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the rights of children."
Carolyn Osbourne, of LCN's Young People's Programme, has said:
"Young people are an already vulnerable group that struggles to access legal advice, not least because they are young and unaware of their rights. Young people are often subjected to local authorities' gate-keeping strategies, which divert them away from services they are entitled to access.
"This report highlights our Law Centres' experiences. We often find that, by the time a young person has found their way to appropriate legal advice, they are at crisis point, with multiple issues requiring a holistic approach to resolve.
"The current retrograde changes to legal aid mean that in some instances young people are literally left out in the cold, unable to access the advice they often desperately need."