Refugee Action have produced a new campaign briefing on the impact of cuts to legal aid on justice in the asylum system. In partnership with NACCOM, they have just launched Tipping the Scales: access to justice in the asylum system. Through mapping legal aid provision across the country and surveying 92 organisations about their experience of referring clients to legal aid solicitors, Refugee Action found that access to legal advice and information for people seeking protection has been drastically slashed. Key findings include:
- Since 2005, 56% of legal aid providers were lost and the proportion of not-for-profit providers fell by 64%;
- 26 local authorities have no legal aid provision;
- 72% of respondents said that they were finding it ‘very difficult’ or ‘quite difficult’ to refer people on to legal representatives;
- 86% of respondents said they were finding referrals more difficult than 6 years ago, when major changes to legal aid were made.
How the City of Sanctuary network can help
Supporters can write to their MP to ask them to tell the Home Secretary that the asylum system is in urgent need of reform.
City of sanctuary groups and their supporters could also promote this report through social networks. In case helpful, below are some draft tweets:
Ø New report from @RefugeeAction & @NACCOMNetwork expose how drastic legal aid cuts are preventing people seeking asylum from accessing the support they need to make their case https://tinyurl.com/y7wqs37c #StandUpForAsylum;
Ø Since 2005, over half of legal aid providers for people seeking asylum have shut. Read @RefugeeAction & @NACCOMNetwork’s new report demanding a fairer and more effective system. https://tinyurl.com/y7wqs37c #StandUpForAsylum;
Ø People seeking asylum are particularly at risk of being denied justice. “The Government must act now to ensure the legal aid system is fit for purpose” says @RefugeeAction & @NACCOMNetwork https://tinyurl.com/y8eulh4l #StandUpForAsylum
Further information is available from Mariam Kemple Hardy, Head of Campaigns at Refugee Action [email protected]