The Legal Aid Bill, if approved, would exclude at least 6,000 children from receiving legal support, according to The Children’s Society.
The bill, which is being discussed in Parliament today, would see cuts made to areas of law including education, housing, immigration and clinical negligence, the charity has warned.
The government has said that for some excluded cases there will be a safety net in the form of an exceptional funding scheme, but The Children’s Society said more than 4,000 children would not be eligible for this scheme.
Many children, including unaccompanied migrant children and victims of trafficking, would be left to navigate a complex legal system with no support. They would have to go to court without a lawyer or risk being exploited in order to raise funds for legal support, the charity said.
Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children’s Society said: “We believe that different principles should apply to children in an adult legal system. All children should have access to good quality publicly funded legal advice and representation. Legal aid is already limited to those who can’t afford it.
“These changes will also affect the poorest and most marginalised families in our society and many more children will suffer as a knock-on effect. It is imperative that access to justice is maintained.”
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