Protest march to take place in Eastbourne over proposed cuts to legal aid

A PROTEST march takes place in Eastbourne on Friday, June 3, against cuts to legal aid funding.

Concerned campaigners say it will mean cuts to advice that people desperately need including debt, housing and family law advice.

Staff, volunteers and clients of Eastbourne Citizens Advice Bureau and Brighton Housing Trust’s Eastbourne Advice Centre are set to march on June 3.

It is part of a Day of Action and the two organisations, both holding legal aid contracts, will lead the protest which starts off at 1.30pm from outside Debenhams in Terminus Road.

A stall will also be based outside Barclays Bank in the town centre with information about the proposals and a petition for members of the public to sign.

Alan Bruzon, the manager of Eastbourne CAB, said, “Very few of the public are aware of the government’s proposals to cut legal aid funding.

“These proposals will see cuts to debt, housing, welfare benefit, employment, education, civil and family law advice amongst others.

“If the government gets their way on this, people will no longer be able to access free specialist legal advice; for the majority if they can’t afford to pay a solicitor they will either have to fight their case themselves or find someone else who can help them.

“Our concern is that the options for this are limited and many people will just give up.”

Sue Hennell, advice manager at the Eastbourne Advice Centre, said, “Legal advice and representation is an essential factor in ensuring homelessness prevention and income maximisation.

“Under current plans thousands of local residents on low incomes will lose crucial help when facing serious problems such as debt and traumatic family breakdown.”

Reasons given for cutting the Legal Aid budget include claims the UK’s system is the most expensive in comparison to other countries; it has expanded to cover a wide range of issues including some that no longer require legal expertise to resolve them; that people should be directed to other methods of dispute resolution and self-fund this; there should be a stop to issues that are of insufficient priority to justify legal aid funding.