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Legal aid cuts spark redundancies at Citizens Advice bureaux

Legal aid cuts spark redundancies at Citizens Advice bureaux
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Legal aid cuts spark redundancies at Citizens Advice bureaux

Finance | Tania Mason | 11 Mar 2013

A number of Citizens Advice bureaux around the country are preparing to make specialist staff redundant as the government’s legal aid cuts begin to take effect.

Citizens Advice, the umbrella organisation for the individual bureaux, could not give a figure for the number of employees expected to lose their jobs, because each independent bureau manages its own budget and human resources requirements.  

However, it confirmed that the funding for legal aid services provided by bureaux is to be cut from £22m last year to just £3m from 1 April, so a significant number of staff paid for by legal aid contracts will be affected.

Legal aid contracts fund qualified staff to provide specialist advice for certain welfare, debt and employment cases. It is those employees that will be affected.

But a Citizens Advice spokeswoman said some local councils have agreed extra funding to cover welfare reforms and some bureaux will reallocate fundraised donations from other services in order to make up some of the shortfall.

Thus, it is not possible for the umbrella body to calculate an overall figure yet for cuts to staff numbers.

“Although we know how much money is going out of the legal aid bill, we don’t know how much is going out of the service as a whole,” the spokeswoman said.

Housing advice charity Shelter has already announced it will be forced to close nine offices, with the loss of around 100 jobs, in response to the legal aid cuts.  Its legal aid funding is to be reduced by £3m.

And, according to The Guardian, the British Red Cross is also having to reduce its service that exists to reunite displaced and separated refugee families, as a result of the legal aid cuts.

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