Recently, I called on the Government to address the serious problems that cuts to legal aid have caused in the family courts.
Since 2012, the Tories have cut funding of legal aid by £950 million a year in real terms and, as a result, the number of people receiving legal aid has fallen by more than 80% in eight years. These cuts are causing specific problems in the family courts as, in the past six years, there has been a shocking 134% increase in the number of parents facing child custody cases without legal representation.
While the family courts are swamped with unrepresented litigants, some parents are abandoning efforts to maintain contact with their children. No parents should ever find themselves in that situation.
Cuts to legal aid undermine our justice system and our rights. When people can’t afford to defend their rights, those rights may as well not exist. That’s why Labour has committed to re-establish early advice entitlements in the family courts and to review the legal aid means tests so that everyone has access to justice.