Advice centres in Burngreave are joining in a day of action on 3rd June about Government proposals to cut legal aid.
Pitsmoor CAB and Sheffield Law Centre offer free advice, funded by legal aid, in welfare benefits, debt, housing, employment, immigration and discrimination law. The government intends to abolish legal aid in most of these areas.
Legal aid has helped fund advice centres since 1995.
Chris Walker, manager of Pitsmoor Citizens Advice Bureau, is very worried about the prospect of cuts:
“The work we do here is vital. It’s the more complex end of advice work; the staff who work on these cases are specialists. We have saved many homes, helped thousands of people appeal benefits they were wrongly refused and got people back on their feet when facing escalating debts. Last year we helped over 400 people with complex problems.
“There are many reasons why poorer people face bigger problems. For example, they tend to pay more for their gas and electricity, more interest on loans, face more complicated rules that govern their benefit income and have fewer rights at work.
“We are still reeling from massive cuts in other income streams but have more and more demand for our service. We have to ask why the government is set on hurting the poorest people to get out of the mess rich bankers led us into.”
Chris also mentioned that the bureau badly needs local volunteers to help manage the Bureau and become trained to give advice. If you are interested in helping the CAB, contact Chris on 273 8838.
Douglas Johnson, equality rights worker at Sheffield Law Centre, said,
“The Government proposes a massive cut of 77% of legal aid to charities like the CAB and Law Centre. In a separate proposal, the Government also intends to strip charities of all the funding available for advice on discrimination.
“Whether you’ve ever used an advice service or not, we are inviting the public to join us for a rally at the Town Hall at 5pm on Friday 3rd June."