Legal aid – Help is still available but is it too complicated to find?

Nicola Furmston

The Children’s Commissioner, Maggie Atkinson, has reported that the door to justice is firmly closed to vulnerable teenagers because cuts to legal aid are preventing them from being represented by solicitors.

There is hard evidence that children, with their limited understanding and maturity, are now forced to navigate the British legal system without guidance and assistance and that as a result housing, welfare and other claims are being abandoned. This inevitably leads to poverty and abuse.

Few people are aware that the Ministry of Justice has the right to grant exceptional funding but has only done so in 57 cases, although some 3,700 grants were anticipated to be made. This may be because children are no longer able to access those who have the capacity to signpost them to such funding – solicitors, and the system for applying is unduly complex and lengthy.

Nicola Furmston is a solicitor specialising in the family field at Barker Gotelee, Solicitors in Ipswich.