Legal Aid Cuts
As a firm we carry out a lot of our work under legal aid. The new government has recently announced that it intends to remove legal aid from the vast majority of education law cases. We are extremely concerned about this and are leading a campaign to make sure that people on low incomes are able to get the advice and help they need particularly when dealing with the complexity of special educational needs cases.
You might think this is simply special pleading on our part because of the amount of legal aid work we do. However, the change is unlikely to make a big difference to our income as there are always more clients who want our services than we are physically able to help and legally aided work is carried out for hourly rates that barely cover the full costs of employing staff. Our real concern
is for the clients on low incomes who will find that they have no-one to fight their corner against the resources of the local authority.
Children with special educational needs
deserve to have the right support
, yet many of their parents are worn out with the battle, and find it hard to struggle alone against the local authority. Even parents who are legally qualified but have no particular expertise in education law find it extremely hard to push for the provision their child needs, in the face of opposition from local authority officials who have a much greater knowledge of how to deal with Tribunal appeals. It is a totally unequal fight
and all the more difficult now that local authority budgets are under such pressure. In addition, if we fail to give our children the right help now, the cost to the country of their care when adults will only increase.
Many of the charities
with which we work are joining with us to put forward sensible solutions for reducing the spend on legal aid
without depriving those who desperately need our help. In addition many clients who have got the provision their child needed through our support are also adding their voice.