In April 2013, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Act 2012 tightened the financial test for most legal aid and also took away legal aid from a range of legal problems including:
- Employment (except for discrimination)
- Clinical negligence (poor or incorrect healthcare)
- Debt (except where your home is at risk)
- Housing (except when your home is at risk or you are homeless)
- Education apart from special needs education
- Private family law
The telephone gateway has also been introduced. This means that if people need legal aid advice about discrimination, debt or special education, they can no longer use local legal advice services or solicitors for face to face advice. They have to contact the Government’s Civil Legal Advice service (CLA) by telephone or email. If the operator is satisfied that they qualify financially for legal aid and their legal problem is within scope, only then are they passed on to a legal expert who initially offers advice by email or phone as there are only three national providers.
Almost a year on, a Government committee wants to know what effects these changes have had. We want to tell them what they have meant for people with mental health problems.
To make our response to the Government as strong as possible, we want to hear from you about the effects you have seen in your local Mind since April 2013. If this is an issue that has affected your local Mind, please fill in our survey here or below.