Cuts to legal aid for people facing issues relating to divorce, housing, employment, immigration, debt and welfare benefits will amount to £600m per year and hit women hardest, according to the government’s own equality impact assessment of the proposal. The Guardian reports that “family law including divorce and child residence cases would no longer be eligible for legal aid other than where domestic violence, forced marriage or international child abduction is proven”. Women make up the majority of legal aid claimants in family law cases, which is no surprise considering they are more likely to earn less than men.
Women’s rights groups are particulalry concerned that psychological abuse will not be recognised as domestic violence for the purposes of legal aid, leaving already vulnerable individuals – the majority of whom are women – without the financial support they may need to divorce abusive partners.
Disabled people and ethnic minorities, who again are more likely to live in poverty, will also be disproportionately affected by the cuts.
But remember, girls and boys, it’s all in the name of fairness!
Image by hitthatswitch, shared under a Creative Commons licence.