A national legal charity has raised concern over the expanding gap in legal aid funding which could deprive thousands of people access to justice.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a number of people are facing serious financial and social challenges, which has left them with “impossible choice” between having no legal representation or living in poverty.
As a result of the crisis, a surging number of people is falling into what is termed the “justice gap”.
Recent figures have shown that almost 650,000 workers in the UK were made redundant during the pandemic. The heightening unfair dismissal and domestic violence could prompt a rise in homelessness as evictions resume in August – which might also lead to a surge in people requiring legal protection.
According to a report by the Law Centres Network, a significant proportion of the public will be left without “vital” support to protect their home, job or benefits in the midst of the crisis.
The director of the Law Centres Network, Julie Bishop, said: “Our data shows a funding sinkhole: many working families are not covered by legal aid and do not know it. If they are personally affected by the pandemic’s economic impact, they are unlikely to afford legal fees for protecting their home and loved ones.
“As the country begins recovering from the pandemic, we must ‘build back better’ and create long-term sustainable funding that can meet the changing needs of the communities we serve.”
A spokesperson of the Ministry of Justice that they allocated significant amounts in extra funding for law centres and legal advice charities to support those most in need during the pandemic, inclusive of victims of domestic abuse.