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Wirral advice bureau sounds alarm over Legal Aid cuts
WIRRAL Citizens Advice Bureau has sounded a warning over cuts in Legal Aid.
The borough’s advice service is worried an 80% reduction planned by government body the Legal Services Commission will deal a “massive blow” to local people.
Wirral CAB currently gives advice to more than 2,300 people each year.
But new contracts from 2013 could mean there is no cash for debt and welfare benefits help - while housing cases could be cut from 500 to 150.
Mike Eden, chief executive of Wirral CAB, said the cuts are coming at a time when more people need advice due to the current financial climate .
He said: “I have major concerns about these plans at a time of significant change in the reform of welfare benefits.
“Because of these reforms, the stagnant economy and the well-publicised issues around disability assessments, more and more people need debt advice to save their homes, and more disabled people need appeals advice.
“It’s bad enough the numbers of people who can be helped through Legal Aid is being slashed by more than 80%.
"But we could now have a ridiculous situation where people facing eviction have to travel many miles to get urgent advice because there is none available in the locality.”
He said Wirral CAB will be monitoring the situation over the next few months to assess the impact of the changes.
Nationally, CAB believes the cuts will have a knock-on effect across other agencies as people go elsewhere to seek help.
“All agencies - MPs, councillors and health professionals - will be facing higher demand for support at a time when funding for services is reducing,” a spokesman said.