Cornwall Council and legal aid agency the Legal Services Commission today announced a landmark agreement to provide accessible legal advice on a range of welfare issues.
The deal would create the country’s first community legal advice network, joining up advice services on family law, benefits, debt, discrimination and other aspects of social welfare law.
Under the plan, advice agencies and solicitors’ firms would sign up to a legal aid contract to provide access to services throughout Cornwall, focusing on areas in greatest need and ensuring those in more remote localities are not excluded.
It is designed to ensure people with multiple problems are not forced to seek advice from different sources.
Legal aid minister Vera Baird said: “Research shows that people often don’t know what kind of advice they need, and tend to give up if they are referred on from their first port of call. That can lead to their problems multiplying.”
Such networks were mooted in Legal Services Commission proposals on reforming civil legal aid last March.
Legal aid reforms target excluded