Legal aid threatened by 600 job cuts

There are concerns legal aid in England will suffer as 600 job cuts from the body which provides it are imminent, a union has claimed.

The GMB union says it was told today by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) it plans to make the personnel cuts over the next three years.

Offices will close in Brighton, Cardiff, Cambridge, Reading, Leeds, Chester and Birmingham, leaving it with just five offices remaining in London, Bristol, Liverpool, Nottingham and South Tyneside.

The workforce at the government agency, which answers to the Ministry of Justice, will be reduced from 1,700 to 1,100.

GMB national officer Rehana Azam said the announcement was “very disappointing news” for both staff and people seeking legal aid in England.

“It is essential to ensure that legal aid services to the public are maintained in these times of recession,” she added.

“It is particularly important that there are no cutbacks in the services to people facing debts and housing problems.”

An LSC spokesperson said it was preparing a comment on the claims.