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I am your future constituent and a member of Young Legal Aid Lawyers ('YLAL'). We want to ensure that legal aid is put on the General Election agenda. As a result, I am asking you support YLAL’s new campaign: #3Pledges4Justice.
We are calling on all political parties to sign up to three key pledges:
1. Make legal aid available to ordinary people. The means test for civil legal aid excludes at least 70% of the population from effective access to justice. This cannot be fair. We call on the next government to reform the means test to ensure more people who cannot afford to pay for legal advice and representation are eligible for legal aid.
2. Bring back legal aid for social welfare law. Legal aid was removed in 2012 from crucial areas of social welfare law, such as debt, housing, welfare benefits, immigration and family law. This was done in the name of austerity, but all the evidence shows that early legal advice stops people’s problems escalating and saves taxpayer money overall. We call on the next government to repeal the 2012 legislation (Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offences Act) and restore legal aid for social welfare law.
3. Pay legal aid lawyers fairly for the vital work they do. Lawyers providing vital legal aid services to our society have had no change in their hourly rate of pay for over 25 years (not even for inflation). We call on the next government to pay them fairly to ensure that future generations of legal aid lawyers will be available to help keep people safe and protect their rights.
I look forward to hearing from you soon and I hope to see you discussing these vital issues on the campaign trail.
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