Happy birthday, legal aid

64 years ago today legal aid was first introduced. Its purpose? To ensure that people would not be denied access to justice because of their inability to pay for a lawyer.

But is it such a happy birthday after all? If the government had its way, legal aid would quietly slip off into retirement. In April it announced proposals to strike another blow to both civil and criminal legal aid.  But the Justice Minister has had a run for his … Read more

A more credible and efficient legal aid system?

The dust had barely settled on the last round of cuts to legal aid before the Government announced plans to reduce the budget yet further.

The new proposals include limitations on funding for judicial review cases, a key mechanism for challenging the lawfulness of decisions or actions of public bodies.

The majority of judicial review cases Shelter undertakes are where local authorities have refused to help a homeless person.

We often encounter families who have been denied support and … Read more

Going digital by default

Civil servants gathered last week at Sprint 13 to discuss the digital transformation of Government. They have 400 days to deliver a radical change, including implementation of the Government Digital Strategy. The aim is to create ‘digital services so good that people prefer to use them’.

We welcomed the publication of the Strategy last November, in particular the way in which it committed to developing both excellent digital services and ‘assisted digital’ provision for those who are offline.

At … Read more

The new Government Digital Strategy

So, it’s out – the new Government Digital Strategy, published yesterday. It’s the fruit of many months of work at Government Digital Service (GDS), working out how to deliver the Government’s commitment to become ‘digital by default’ in its delivery of services.

This content of this strategy is highly relevant to us at Shelter. As a major provider of housing advice nationally, we deliver services across all channels: we have an excellent digital offer alongside equally excellent telephone … Read more

Channel shift?

Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox has launched Go-ON UK, the new campaign to increase our digital literacy. It picks up the baton from Race Online 2012, which has helped reduce the number of people in the UK who have never used the internet.

This is very good news. Afterall, with advances in technology moving at such a pace, those without the skills, confidence or opportunities to use the net face being left way behind. Digital exclusion will matter … Read more

Telephone gateway – or barrier?

A fortnight ago the Legal Aid, Punishment and Sentencing of Offenders Act received Royal Assent. It’s just 18 months since the legal aid reforms were first put forward by the Ministry of Justice. Since then, the Government has succeeded in making dramatic changes to the legal aid system.

Not only has the scope of legal aid been cut but the way it’s delivered will now change.

Those in need of legal advice, but unable to pay for it, will no … Read more