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Access to justice and legal aid

On this page, we talk about the government's changes to justice and legal aid and how they've affected those of us with mental health problems.

What is legal aid?

Legal aid is government-funded legal help and advice. It could be:

  • Advice on your rights and options
  • Help with negotiations and paperwork
  • Having a solicitor to represent you at a tribunal

Before 2012, legal aid helped people to manage life’s day-to-day challenges, stay well and avoid crises by making sure they could access the courts when they needed to.

Since then, the government has made changes to the legal aid system. These changes have drastically reduced the types of legal problems that legal aid covers. This has left lots of people with mental health problems without any support.

If people with mental health problems can’t get legal aid, problems with housing, debt and benefits can quickly spiral out of control. The impact can be devastating.

What are we doing about cuts to legal aid?

We're working behind the scenes to persuade the Ministry of Justice to make sure everyone living with a mental health problem has access to justice when they need it.

You can help us make this a reality, by becoming a Mind campaigner.

Become a campaigner

Our report on legal aid

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) changed the types of legal problems that you can get legal aid for. It drastically reduced:

  • The number of people who are eligible
  • The number of cases being funded by legal aid

We’re concerned that far too many people with mental health problems have been left to handle legal problems without legal advice or help.

Our report - An unjust system? - shows that the changes made by the LASPO Act 2012 have disproportionately affected people with mental health problems. It shows that 1 in 2 people who lost out on legal aid due to the act had mental health problems.

Read An unjust system?

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