Disabled people are more likely than all other groups to be impacted by the cuts to legal aid. The Ministry of Justice conducted an equality impact assessment which concluded “that overall the proposals have the potential to impact a greater proportion of women, BAME people and ill or disabled people.” 1 The assessment found that, whilst 19% of the general population have a long-term illness or are disabled, the figure was 58% of those receiving legal aid for welfare benefit claims. To get legal aid for a discrimination case, disabled people must use a telephone gateway, and there are now only three firms allowed to apply for legal aid for discrimination claims. This has resulted in a massive drop in the number of people getting legal aid for this type of case; in terms of discrimination cases there is a 77% shortfall in the predicted take-up since these restrictions were introduced2.
If you have been personally affected . For example have been unable to claim support, had to part claim, or had to represent yourself in court and would be willing to talk about this to a Guardian journalist please contact firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
It is only by talking about how we are affected that we are able to get these issues out to the public.
1Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales: Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) June 2011
2See “Civil legal aid – the secret legal service”, a report published by Legal Action Group in September 2013 reviewing the figures for legal aid take-up in the first quarter of 2013-14.