Legal Aid Cuts Hitting Cornish Debt Advisors

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The Citizens Advice Bureau stated that nine debt advisors in Cornwall will lose their jobs next year as a result of the withdrawal of legal aid.

The CAB also added that the removal of legal aid meant approximately 1,500 vulnerable local people a year would miss out on vital help. Debt advisers have suggested that other CAB volunteers would have to pick up the additional work which in turn would take them away from other work.

The government said legal advice was not always necessary and it would still fund high priority debt cases. The Legal Services Commission funding of legal aid will end in March 2013.

Katrina Bromfield, a part-time debt advisor based in Newquay, said:

“Debt work is very administration-orientated. There are a lot of letters coming in and a lot of letters going out.”

“It will add hugely to the work of the volunteers in each CAB office.”

Jim McKenzie, from the CAB in Cornwall, said

“There’s still huge need for debt counselling and assistance, and it’s going to increase.”

“For people who have problems with literacy and numeracy, or people out there with mental health issues – and they are all dealing with the stress that can come with debt – they need to see someone.”

The Ministry of Justice said:

“Legal advice is not always the only option and early practical advice can sometimes be of more help.”

“After careful thought about which areas should be cut from legal aid, it [the commission] will be continuing to fund what is calls high-priority debt cases from a £50m fund.”

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